Sen. Tom Carper released a statement Dec. 11 after the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a replacement proposal for the Clean Water Rule.

The new proposal redefines Waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act of 1972 and guts protections for certain streams and wetlands.

“It may seem unimaginable to young Americans today, but many of us remember a time before our country implemented strong, sensible laws to protect our waterways. Back then, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, was so polluted that it actually caught on fire. Polluters were allowed to dump toxic waste into our waterways without consequence. Garbage littered our shores. It isn’t just a coincidence that this is no longer the reality in our country. We addressed the horrific water quality in many parts of our country by putting in place strong standards to protect the waterways we all share and depend on for drinking water and recreation,” said Carper.

“The Clean Water Rule sought to make clear which waters receive federal protection after several confusing and conflicting Supreme Court decisions. That rule would protect the oceans, wetlands and waterways from which we drink and obtain our food, provide certainty for American businesses and keep us on a sure track to enjoy nearly $500 million in economic benefits that clean water and healthy wetlands provide. The Trump administration’s replacement plan does just the opposite. It protects fewer waters from pollution and poses serious threats to the health of the public, the environment, and our economy. The Trump administration proposal also promises uncertainty for our farmers and ranchers and could lead to years of unwieldy litigation for the federal government and many others who use and depend on these resources. This administration is rolling back the clock and putting its thumb on the scale to make it easier for industry to dump harmful pollution in our waterways. Under this new rule, any water that isn’t explicitly protected is water that can be polluted,” said Carper.

“Let’s be very clear: Congress was not confused or uncertain about what it was seeking to protect when it passed the Clean Water Act. At the time, there was broad and bipartisan concern over the health of our waters, and there was a consensus that we needed to fix a very real and costly problem. To cut back important protections for our waters — especially when we have enjoyed and profited from 50 years of strong standards — is nothing short of senseless,” said Carper.

EPA and USACE will take comment on the proposal for 60 days in the Federal Register and will hold a public listening session.