The Environmental Protection Agency enacted a new rule in April that strips federal Clean Water Act protections for more than half of all U.S. wetlands, temporary rain-fed streams, and connected groundwater between marshes and lakes and rivers.

On Thursday, a national team of scientists published an essay in the journal Science making the case that the administration’s new rule will compromise U.S. waters and represents a complete departure from the science of aquatic ecosystems.

Amanda Rodewald, professor in Cornell University’s Department of Natural Resources and senior director of conservation science with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, co-authored the essay. She says the impacts from the EPA’s new policy will be detrimental and wide-ranging.


Rodewald says:

“The Navigable Waters Protection Rule is inconsistent with the best-available science, including a federal scientific report in which EPA scientists synthesized more than 1,200 peer-reviewed studies and input from 49 experts and the EPA’s Science Advisory Board.

“Under the new rule, over half of wetlands and roughly one-fifth of streams nationwide will no longer be protected under the Clean Water Act. Impacts stand to be enormous, as these waters collectively provide important ecosystem services such as supplying public drinking water, recharging groundwater aquifers, preventing floods, trapping sediments and pollutants, reducing run-off, and lowering water treatment costs.” 

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