Attorney General Nessel works to reverse Trump-era Clean Water Act rule, give states more authority


LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined an 18-state coalition to urge the repeal of a Trump-era rule that reduces state authority in the to approve or deny projects under the Clean Water Act.

Nessel joined other states like Oregon, Minnesota and Maryland in sending a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, urging the agency to make changes to the rule, which was created in 2020. The states argue that, since its implementation, the rule has created “uncertainty and confusion,” which has complicated and delayed action that is urgently needed.

“Not only is this rule illegal, but it is harmful to our natural resources,” Nessel said in a statement. “Protecting Michigan’s water resources is crucial to the well-being of our residents and our environment. I urge the EPA to act quickly to repeal these misguided rule amendments.”

Michigan has thousands of miles of streams and lakes used for drinking water, fishing and fun.

According to a poll conducted by Michigan State University’s Health and Risk Communication Center in 2020, 78 percent of residents of states surrounding the Great Lakes support protecting streams and wetlands.

The poll also found that people who felt a sense of ownership or responsibility for their local watersheds were more supportive of their protection.

“This is not surprising considering people’s love for the Great Lakes and is worth considering as policy decisions are made about the watershed,” said Dan Bergman, an associate professor at MSU and the study lead.

The rule originally mandated that a project requiring federal approval that could lead to discharges into local water systems must get state certification confirming that the project meets state water quality standards.

Changes to the rule in 2020 had a major impact on nationwide permits, which made many states have to evaluate projects individually and adopt individual water quality certifications which are expensive and are paid by the taxpayer.

In the letter to the EPA the coalition argues that the agency should restore the state’s authority to approve, impose conditions or deny certifications for federal projects under the Clean Water Act.

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