Pruitt Just Gutted Water Protections for 117 Million People

He informed Trump in a happy birthday tweet.

Ron Sachs/CNP via ZUMA Wire

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This story was originally published by HuffPost and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. 

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday inched closer to proposing a regulation to replace an Obama-era rule that clarified which bodies of water qualified for federal protection. 

The proposal comes more than a year after EPA administrator Scott Pruitt signed an executive action to revoke the 2015 Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule. The regulation clarified which wetlands and streams could be protected under the Clean Water Act and expanded federal authority to all “navigable” waters. That extended the federal safeguards to 2 million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands, securing the drinking water of more than 117 million Americans.

But a federal judge stayed the Clean Water Rule in 2015; the rule has since bounced around the courts. In January, the Supreme Court volleyed the case back to the district court level. In the meantime, Pruitt began the process of repealing the rule outright.

On Thursday evening, Pruitt said he planned to send the new rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget. In a tweet wishing President Donald Trump a happy birthday, Pruitt said he announced the WOTUS replacement in a meeting with farm interests in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

https://twitter.com/EPAScottPruitt/status/1007403087261241345

The new proposal comes amid a series of personal and professional scandals involving Pruitt. People have called for Pruitt to be investigated for public corruption and fired following revelations of his extravagant spending, bizarre requests of aides, and use of his office to enrich himself. President Donald Trump has so far defended the embattled administrator, insisting as recently as this month that the “EPA is doing really, really well.”

But conservatives began to turn on Pruitt this week. On Wednesday, a dark-money conservative group in Iowa rolled out a new TV ad calling Pruitt a “swamp monster” who is “embarrassing the president.” Later that day, conservative pundit and Trump booster Laura Ingraham said in a tweet that Pruitt had “gotta go.” Even Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who counts Pruitt as a friend and protégé, said on Ingraham’s radio program that it may be time for Pruitt to step aside.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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