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California Attorney General Xavier BecerraAttorney General Xavier Becerra filed his strong opposition to the Trump Administration’s attempt to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which would protect California’s lakes, rivers, and streams from pollutants. The Clean Water Rule was developed using a science-based approach to clarify the definition of “waters of the United States” in the federal Clean Water Act. Federal law prohibits the discharge of pollutants into “waters of the United States.”

Attorney General Becerra and eight attorneys general filed their official comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers. Their comments underscore that the Trump Administration is violating the Administrative Procedure Act by ignoring the factual findings supporting the Clean Water Rule and failing to articulate a satisfactory reason for reinstating the pre-2015 definition of “waters of the United States.”

“The Trump Administration is attempting to weaken protections for California’s waters,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Whose interests are they watching out for? I fully support the Clean Water Rule because it was legally promulgated, based on science, and will help protect our water resources. The stakes are high for California – if the Clean Water Rule is rolled back, many of our waterways may lose critical protections. The California Department of Justice refuses to stand idly by and let that happen.”

The 2015 Clean Water Rule sought to address significant issues with the prior definition of “waters of the United States.” For decades, the pre-2015 definition had been interpreted differently among the courts, leading to confusion, unpredictability, and inconsistent application of the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Rule clarified the definition of “waters of the United States” to explicitly include waters in floodplains, riparian areas, and intermittent and ephemeral streams. This was an especially important development for the State of California, as the majority of California’s streams and rivers are intermittent or ephemeral.

Joining Attorney General Becerra in submitting comments today were the attorneys general of Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the comments is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news.

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