“It’s not clear to me whether the EPA is going to succeed or fail,” said Dr. Joseph F. Schmitz, director of the Environmental Protection Agency, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in January.
“I don’t know the answer to that question.”
“We need a clean water system,” Schmitch said in a recent interview.
“The fact is we have a lot of it, and I’m a believer in clean water, clean air, clean water and clean water.
But we have to have it.”
In the last decade, the EPA has been grappling with a complex and often fractious system of rules and regulations designed to protect the environment, promote economic growth and foster innovation.
Its most recent proposal to roll back the Clean Water Act, which protects millions of wetlands, marshes and rivers across the nation, was a top target for environmental groups.
“The Trump administration has a lot to answer for, and the next administration needs to do something about the mess they’re creating,” said Daniel L. Hetzel, executive director of Clean Water Action, a national advocacy group.
“What’s really at stake is the future of our water and our communities.”
The Trump team is already struggling to fulfill a campaign promise to rollback the Clean Power Plan, which restricts carbon emissions from power plants.
A number of states have sued to block the plan, arguing it would hurt the state’s economy and damage the environment.
The EPA is also trying to reverse its Clean Power and Water Rule, a sweeping environmental regulation enacted in 2014 that requires oil and gas companies to get permits from state and local authorities to drill in their waterways.
The rule was supposed to help spur economic growth by encouraging oil and natural gas production.
But environmentalists and business groups have raised concerns that the rule could drive up the cost of oil and coal-based power plants, which emit more carbon dioxide than other forms of energy, including coal and natural coal.
The administration also is moving to kill rules aimed at fighting global warming and climate change, such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Food and Drug Act.
The new Trump administration is moving quickly to dismantle the Clean Climate Protection Rule, which bars the use of certain pollutants, such for example mercury and nitrogen oxide, that can cause respiratory illnesses, eye damage and birth defects.
The administration also has taken steps to rollbacks the Clean Drinking Water Act.
Many experts say the Trump transition team needs to make significant progress on environmental issues in the weeks and months to come.
Trump’s first 100 days have been marred by a slew of controversies, from his travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries to his abrupt dismissal of a U.S. District Court judge who ruled against the ban, and his efforts to gut the EPA.
As the Trump White House moves forward, however, some of the most prominent environmental organizations in the country will likely join with a broad coalition of groups to fight the incoming administration, including the American Petroleum Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
If you have questions, send us an email.
Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericwalsh and John on Twitter.
Follow InsideClimate News at @InsideClimate and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/InsideClimate.