"Members of EPA's Science Advisory Board grappled with whether and how to weigh in on the Trump administration's rollback of clean water standards given the administration's insistence that the proposal is a question of policy, not science.
'They have the right to change the policy, but the science isn't right,' member Robert Merritt said.
The 'Waters of the U.S.' proposal from EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers would erase Clean Water Act protections for wetlands without surface water connections to larger waterways and streams that only flow following rainfall. At least some federal protections for those waters have been in place since the Reagan administration.
The Science Advisory Board last addressed questions of Clean Water Act jurisdiction in 2014, reviewing and supporting a 300-page 'connectivity report' describing how wetlands and small waterways can affect larger resources. The Obama administration used that report, and the board's review, as the basis for its Clean Water Rule, but the Trump administration has insisted that its rollback does not need to be based in science."