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Environmentalists: EPA Plan To Roll Back Clean Water Rules Threatens Drinking Water In Maine

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
This Oct. 1, 2013 photo shows Tomah Stream in Indian Township, Maine.

Environmental groups in Maine and around the country were swift to denounce a Trump administration plan announced Tuesday to roll back clean water rules designed to protect millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams from pesticides and other pollutants. Emmie Theberge of the Natural Resources Council of Maine says, if finalized, the proposal could put Mainers' drinking water at risk.

"About half of Maine's drinking water is fed by small streams that are protected by the clean water rule, so those sources would be under threat by this roll back," Theberge says.

Theberge says the Clean Water Act has made waters safer for other uses as well, and the proposal would turn back the clock to a time when their were fewer protections for people and wildlife. 

"For more than 46 years we've really relied on the Clean Water Act to make sure our waters are safe for drinking, swimming, fishing, and so this we see this roll back as a real threat across the country," she says.

EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler defends the proposal, which he says "respects the limits of the Clean Water Act and provides states and landowners the certainty they need to manage their natural resources and grow local economies." 

His agency is accepting public comments on the plan for 60 days after its publication in the federal register.

Trout Unlimited is among the environmental groups announcing strong opposition to the Trump administration's proposal. The group says the proposal will deregulate a range of development activities, including pipeline construction, and will degrade hunting and fishing opportunities in every state in the country. 

Originally published Dec. 11, 2018 at 4:39 p.m. ET.