Over 7,000 citizens submitted comments to the EPA warning that a new proposed rule to rescind the definition of the “waters of the United States” would confer financial benefit to President Trump and would be unconstitutional

WASHINGTON, D.C. – TODAY, Free Speech For People and Raritan Headwaters Association issued a letter to EPA and Army Corps of Engineers urging them to withdraw their proposed rule to rescind the “waters of the United States” that would direct financial benefits to golf courses owned, through LLCs and a revocable trust, by President Trump. 

Established in 2015, the definition of the waters of the United States was designed to clarify which waterways were protected by the Clean Water Act which aims to protect water quality, prevent pollution and manage storm water runoff.  By rescinding the definition, the EPA would continue to evaluate when and where the Clean Water Act applies on a case to case basis and could result in the exclusion of bodies of water affecting the drinking water of 117 million people from the Clean Water Act’s requirements for water safety and protection.

Shanna Cleveland, Senior Counsel for Free Speech For People, made the case that the new rule would not only cause significant economic and environmental harms, but it would violate the U.S. Constitution’s Domestic Emoluments Clause by conferring direct financial benefits, profits, and advantages upon President Trump by reducing the management costs for his properties.

The letter details how the new rule would benefit the Trump golf courses including: opening the door for preferential treatment in permitting decisions; limiting obligations to obtain federal permits to protect water quality and prevent pollution; reducing the ability to halt operations without permits; exempting them from studying the potential impacts and costs of the development, modification, and operation of new and existing courses; the need to obtain permits for routine maintenance such as the use of pesticides and fertilizer; and increased liability for managing property, and urges the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to provide a full analysis of the impact and to withdraw the rule.   

In addition to the letter, over 7,000 people submitted public comments on the proposed EPA rule citing a concern that it violates the Domestic Emoluments Clause, urging the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to provide a full analysis of the impact on Trump’s properties, and calling for them to withdraw the rule. 

Read the letter, here.