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Growing debate about clean water watched closely

Posted at 4:22 PM, Mar 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-01 18:58:18-05

The issue of clean water is taking center stage after President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order telling the EPA that it needs to review the Clean Water Rule.  The President said he hopes the review will pave the way for "elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule."

However, groups like the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper worry that changes to the rule could make it easier for people or businesses to pollute the nation's water resources.

The quality of water in Lakes Erie and Ontario is a big concern for the local fishing industry which generates about $60-$70 million annually.  During the 50's, 60's and 70's, pollution levels in Lake Erie got so bad that the lake was declared dead.  However, the lake has since rebounded thanks to the Clean Water Act and Zebra Mussels which helped filter the pollutants.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly talked with local fishermen and charter boat captains about the importance of the lakes.  You can hear more in his reports.

The following is the statement from Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper:

FOLLOW-UP: What is the Clean Water Rule and why is the Executive Order (EO) so concerning? The Rule makes it easier for businesses and individuals to know what waters are protected by the 1972 Clean Water Act and what waters are not included - it does not regulate land or create any new permitting requirements. The only reason a person or business needs to worry about the Clean Water Rule is if they intend to pollute or destroy a federally protected river, stream, wetland or other surface water resource. Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper respects the democratic process, where laws and regulations can be adapted and improved over time, however, our concern on this EO is justified due to direct statements from the POTUS: "With today's executive order I'm directing the EPA to take action paving the way for the elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule". Because the rule is established, the ordered "review" is the only way to commence efforts to dismantle or completely withdraw. EPA took years to craft the rule, held more than 400 meetings with stakeholders from all sectors, is based on peer-reviewed science, and received more than one million public comments, most of which were in support of the Rule. On the heels of the EO that removed the Stream Protection Rule last month, this EO creates more confusion and uncertainty on the future health of our nation's water resources. #protectcleanwater