After the announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday rolling back what has been called federal overreach by former President Obama’s Waters of the U.S. rule, Environment Montana issued a press release condemning the decision.

Executive Director Skye Borden said the decision will open up the possibility of more pollution into Montana streams and waterways.

“This is something that we’ve been expecting for a long time,” said Borden. “The Trump administration said that was one of their priorities this year, so we knew it was coming, but it’s still very disappointing. The Clean Water rule restored federal protection to 110,000 miles of Montana streams. These are streams that feed major waterways like the Yellowstone, Missouri and Clark Fork Rivers and countless other drinking water sources around the state.”

What Borden is especially concerned about is the lifting of protections will allow more mining damage, as well as that caused by development near the waterways.

“Here in our part of the country, in the Missoula and Bitterroot areas one of the things we should be most concerned about is development,” she said. “A lot of suburban development and construction sites will impact smaller streams and wetlands. If they’re not included under Clean Water Act protections they don’t have to follow best construction practices, so we may see increased sedimentation into our smaller streams and wetlands that ultimately impacts the entire river ecosystem.”

Borden said more than a thousand scientific studies and a million Americans – including 1,886 Montanans – backed protections for these waterways.


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