Bites Media

2020 Presidential Election

2020 Environment: Clean Water


  • Clean water ranges from clean human drinking water to clean U.S. waters like lakes, streams, rivers, and wetlands.
  • 1972: The Clean Water Act was passed by Congress to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity” of America's waters. It regulates discharges of pollutants into the waters and defines quality standards. [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency]
  • 2015: The Clean Water Rule was established to clarify what water systems are under federal scope and coverage (about 60% of U.S. waterways) [NPR].
  • 27 states sued to block it, believing it to be federal overreach. [The Texas Tribune]
  • States continue to have broad protections for waters within their borders and some regulate more than the federal government. [NPR]


  • May 2019: Nonprofit Environmental Working Ground found 43 states have contaminated drinking water; 8% of sources do not meet EPA standards. [Newsweek
  • Jan. 2020: The Trump administration rewrote the 2015 Clean Water Rule to The Navigable Waters Protection Rule. [The New York Times]
  • The new rule decreases the scope and coverage of federal protection. It has experienced legal challenges and been officially rewritten three times. [Bloomberg Law]
  • 14 states have sued to block the new rule. [The Hill]

President Trump is against the Clean Water Rule


What he's said

President Trump stated the Clean Water Rule was “one of the worst examples of federal regulation.” [The New York Times]



What he's done

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule redefines the "Waters of the United States."


The new definition includes fewer waters and fewer protections than the 2015 rule. [Science]


EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) said, "the proposed Rule does not present new science to support this definition, thus the SAB finds that the proposed Rule lacks scientific justification, while potentially introducing new risks to human and environmental health." [Science]



More on environment

The Trump administration has made a priority to roll back Obama-era environmental protections. [The New York Times


See all Trump administration rollbacks here.


Former Vice President Biden is unclear on the Clean Water Rule


What he's said:

Bites Media is unable to find a quote from Joe Biden on the Clean Water Rule or Navigable Waters Protection Rule, at this time. 


Biden campaign has promised to "ensure access to safe drinking water for all communities" by making "water infrastructure a top priority." [Joe Biden Campaign]



What he's done

During his time as VP, Biden helped the Obama administration develop and institute the 2015 Clean Water Rule as well as additional signature environmental protection achievements



More on environment

"Vice President Biden knows there is no greater challenge facing our country and our world [than climate change] Today, he is outlining a bold plan – a Clean Energy Revolution – to address this grave threat and lead the world in addressing the climate emergency." [Joe Biden Campaign]

Key Vocabulary