Montana Audubon

Montana Audubon works at the local, state and national policy levels to protect our natural heritage.

Oppose Repeal of the Clean Water Act Rule Protecting Wetlands and Headwater Streams

Please respond by September 27 – do it today!

Comment are needed NOW on a decision by the Trump administration to repeal a rule that protects 60 percent of stream miles in America—in addition to most of our nation’s wetlands. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a proposal to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule safeguarding headwater streams and wetlands. Conservationists, anglers, irrigators, recreationists, and all water drinkers, should act to defend the Clean Water Rule because it:

White-tailed Deer

  • Protects headwater streams and wetlands that safeguard the drinking water sources of more than half of Montanans and one in three Americans;
  • Conserves important habitat for the majority of Montana’s wildlife species;
  • Includes exemptions to ensure that farmers and ranchers are not penalized for the water use that keeps them in business.
  • Supports our hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation industry: ten million people visit Montana every year, in large degree because of the state’s unparalleled natural amenities, including our wetlands and clean headwater

Your opinion matters! PLEASE take the time TODAY to send EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt comments to protect the Clean Water Act.


Bull Trout

WHAT WE ARE ASKING YOU TO DO:

Email EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt TODAY to tell him NOT to repeal the Clean Water Rule for “Waters of the United States.” Comments must be received by Wednesday, September 27, 2017.

Comments are only being accepted online at https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203-0001.


SAMPLE COMMENT*

To: Administrator Scott Pruitt, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Policy Regulatory Reform, Mail Code 1803A, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Pruitt,

I am writing regarding the proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to repeal the definition of Waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act. I oppose this repeal because the current Clean Water Rule:

  • Protects headwater streams and wetlands that safeguard the drinking water sources of more than half of Montanans water (54% of Montanans rely on clean surface water for public drinking water);
  • Provides important habitat for the majority of Montana’s wildlife species (I want to specifically point out that isolated wetlands are particularly important to ducks and geese);
  • Includes exemptions to ensure that farmers and ranchers are not penalized for the water use that keeps them in business; and
  • Supports our hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation industry (our state reportedly has a $7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy that generates 71,000 jobs and $286 million in state and local taxes). Ten million people visit Montana every year, in large degree because of the state’s unparalleled natural amenities, including our clean headwater

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important issue.

Sincerely,

*Helpful Hint: Email comments are more effective if you alter the introductory sentence and/or personalize the letter in some way.


FIVE REASONS TO OPPOSE REPEALING THE WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES DEFINITION:

  1. Why was the rule issued in 2015? The EPA issued the “waters of the United States” rule in 2015 because regulations protecting our

    Isolated wetland in Swan Valley

    country’s streams and wetlands became confusing and complex because of two Supreme Court decisions: SWANCC in 2001 (a 5-4 decision on isolated wetlands) and Rapanos in 2006 (a 4-1-4 decision on tributaries and wetlands adjacent to tributaries). The rule was designed to take out much of the ‘judgment call’ for staff who were implementing the permit process. In addition, the rule was based on a report which reviewed more than 1,200 peer-reviewed scientific publications. The rule also had an extensive public comment period when it was adopted—almost 6 month long. In the end, 87% of the comments supported the rule.

It should be noted that there are important safeguards in the Clean Water Rule to prevent adverse impacts to farmers and ranchers.

  1. Montanans rely on our headwater streams and wetlands to keep our drinking water clean. Protecting our wetlands and headwater streams makes

    Small boy drinking water

    good sense—especially in a dry state like Montana. One of the most valuable functions of wetlands and headwater streams is their ability to maintain and improve water quality. As suspended particles move through these areas, they are held by the vegetation and soil. Toxic substances, including heavy metals, toxic chemicals and pathogens, can be filtered out or broken down by plants, keeping these pollutants from entering nearby lakes and rivers. Captured nutrients, including phosphorous and nitrates, are used by plants or are slowly returned to the water, thus stabilizing nutrient loads. Consequently, the filtering capacity of healthy wetlands and headwater streams can maintain—or even improve—water quality. In addition, 54% of Montanans rely on clean surface water for public drinking water, including the following communities: the cities of Bozeman, Butte, Glasgow, Great Falls, Havre, Helena, Kalispell, Libby, Red Lodge, Ronan, Stevensville, Thompson Falls, White Sulphur Springs, Whitefish, and most of the communities along the Yellowstone River (Billings, Forsyth, Glendive, Laurel, Lockwood, and Miles City).

  2. Headwater streams and wetlands provide important wildlife habitat for countless Montana wildlife species. Wildlife habitat is probably the best-known reason for protecting wetlands and headwater streams. These essential habitats support such mammals as deer, mink, beaver, otter, elk, moose,

    Black-necked Stilt

    and bear; breeding and nesting areas for an estimated 55% of Montana’s breeding birds; and much-needed food and resting areas for migrating birds. Isolated wetlands are particularly important to ducks and geese. In addition, keeping headwater streams clean is critical for roughly 50 percent of Montana’s trout streams, which are important to fishing and the economy.

  3. Outdoor recreation, often centered on water, is a big economic driver in Montana. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, our state has a $7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy that generates 71,000 jobs and $286 million in state and local taxes. Montana’s recreation economy supports our hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation industry. Ten million people visit Montana every year, in large degree because of the state’s unparalleled natural amenities, including our clean headwater streams.
  4. Both wetlands and headwater streams play an important role in preventing flooding. Montana has over 175,000 miles of streams and rivers and all of them flood periodically. Water that floods vegetated floodplains is soaked up by floodplain wetlands and streamside vegetation and then reenters the main channel slowly. This action can lower flood peaks, slow water velocities, recharge local aquifers, and provide temporary water storage. These flood control functions can help avert damage caused by flooding to downstream urban and suburban areas, agricultural lands, and irrigation structures.
As part of our River Initiative, Montana Audubon works to protect our state’s clean water, wetlands, and streams.

Northern Pintail

For More Information:

Please send your comments so they are received by Wednesday, September 27, 2017!

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