A 6th Circuit Court ruling last week puts the implementation of a much-needed clean water rule on hold pending further court action, a move that leaves in peril the vast majority of America’s headwater streams which provide water for everything from fish to farms to people.
“We’re disappointed by the court’s decision to issue this stay,” said Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited’s vice president for government affairs. “We, our partners, and thousands of concerned Americans worked very hard over the course of years to encourage the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to draft this rule and reinstate protections for our headwaters that were lost a decade ago. The effect of the court’s decision is to return the nation to the mess that we had prior to the finalization of the clean water rule.”
Moyer said that Trout Unlimited does take heart the court’s determination that a clear, consistent rule is needed, and that the agencies used a strong scientific record to develop it.
“Obviously, the order from the court is not a rejection of the rule and does not invalidate or hold the rule unlawful,” he said. “The court simply ordered that implementation of the rule be paused, briefly, to allow the courts to properly review the concerns raised in the complaints and to ensure that the new rule is lawful.”
The rule, dubbed by many as the Waters of the United States rule, reinstates protections under the Clean Water Act for small headwater streams all across the nation that were lost in the 2000s after a pair of Supreme Court decisions. The rule simply requires that development in sensitive headwaters be reviewed and permitted in order to ensure water quality for fish, wildlife and downstream users is protected.
“The rule offers a common-sense solution to protecting our country’s most precious resource—our water,” Moyer said. “We sincerely hope the court sees the merits of the rule after it reviews the merits more carefully. Anglers and hunters are hopeful by nature. One day’s bad skunking may give way to the next day’s glorious abundance. We remain strong in our support of the clean water rule, and we remain confident that, at the end of the day, the clean water rule will prevail.”
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at tu.org.