A new watchdog report claims the Trump administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has used questionable criteria to strip out protections provided by the Clean Water Act, putting streams and wetlands at risk. Those findings are the result of research done by the External Environmental Economics Advisory Board.

Virginia Tech economist and contributor to the report, Kevin Boyle, says that the Trump administration’s analysis and subsequent deregulation overlook existing research on how states view water quality protections.  

“There’s no research out there to support the statement that the states will step in, which is what the analysis asserts,” said Boyle. “There are actually examples where states had the opportunity to step in to protect waters and did not.”

“There are fundamental flaws from a biological and hydrological perspective of flowing waters,” Boyle said. “Water is a flowing resource, so it’s a transboundary resource; if one state doesn’t protect the water quality, it affects the state downstream. When you look at it from a state perspective, the state only considers their boundaries, whereas a national policy would look at it from that transboundary perspective. Economically speaking, it creates unequal competition between states – if one state does more to protect water quality, then businesses operating in that state have to operate at a higher cost than businesses in adjoining states.”

Boyle also thinks that this report will be “information that could help the new administration jumpstart their environmental policy agenda.”

Read the Report on the Repeal of the Clean Water Rule and Its Replacement


Kevin Boyle is a professor of agricultural and applied economics in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He has focused his 30-year career on valuing natural resources, looking at issues related to air quality and fresh water. His research contributions have aided in arbitrating litigation, as well as advising environmental and government organizations, including both the U.S. EPA and the National Park Service. He holds numerous professional awards including the highest award attainable from the Association of Environmental and Research Economists.

To schedule an interview with Kevin Boyle, contact Jillian Broadwell by email, or by phone at (540) 231-9443, or Bill Foy by email, or by phone at (540) 998-0288.

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Written by Jillian Broadwell

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