Civil Disobedience


Efforts, taken by stakeholders to conserve the environment, have often been met by resistance from investors. Many conservation efforts tend limit economic activities, at least for some time before the relevant entities can comply. This is the same scenario that faced the US in the second half of the 20th century. Many industries were reconstructing after the Second World War that had disrupted the growth of many mainstream sectors. There were massive emissions into the environment that led to air and water pollution. The Clean Water Act was, thus, created in 1972 to regulate the volume of pollutants, discharged into natural water sources in the country. The act placed all the sources with a significant nexus under protection of a federal environmental agency. However, the courts remained with the discretion to determine which water bodies are protected under the act. Court decisions have proved challenging to follow because the same or different court can come up with a decision that conflicts earlier precedence. According to EPA, two Supreme Court decisions in 2001 (Rapanos v US) and 2006 (Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook City v Army Corps of Engineers) complicated the definition of these two issues. President Obama’s administration felt that it was time to streamline the definition of the water bodies covered under the act. The President enacted the Water Rule through an executive order. The purpose of this rule was to interpret the Clean Water Act. The rule defines and protects tributaries that feed major rivers. It protects any other source of water near rivers because they impact the quality of downstream waters. It also excludes some sources of water from case-specific analysis. Before, the vagueness of the Clean Water Act led to scrutiny of certain water sources that were not targeted by individuals who formulated the law. It led to many administrative challenges where individuals and entities refused to comply with all the provisions in the act. The concentration on all the waters also distracted the authorities from those sources that the act covered. The implementation of the new Water Rule was aimed at concentrating precisely on important water sources. However, the new administration under President Donald Trump has felt that the Water Rule was limiting economic activities. President Trump noted that small farmers and businesses were being put out of business because they could not effectively utilize water resources for their activities.

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The impact of small-scale economic activities on the environment cannot be ignored. Despite their scale of operations, their multiplicity leads to devastating effects on the environment. President Trump signed a reverse executive order that rescinds President Obama’s one. This means that the country has returned to the previous state where there was the unclear Clean Water Act until further recommendations are made by the committee in charge (Heinzerling 360).

Action 1

The first action in this course will be to inform the public about the contents of the Water Rule enacted during the Obama administration. It is important that the people understand the provisions of the Water rule and what is likely to happen if this rule is scrapped. It is also important to note that President Trump’s executive order did not directly rescind the rule but rather ordered for its review by the two organizations that enacted it. The people should understand that the Obama administration did not come up with the rules themselves. The executive order signed by President Obama mandated the two agencies charged with the responsibility of implementing the Clean Water Act of 1974 to come up with clarifications that would make it easier to implement the law. Clarity of the law makes it easier for implementing agencies, and the people to comply with it. When the President asks these organizations to reconsider the points reached during the consultations, it is likely that they will reverse the decision reached during the review done under President Obama. The 2015 review, which led to the enactment of the Water Rule, limited the negative impact of the economic activities that take place upstream on the water that is made available for consumption (Marsh and Diamond n.p.). President Trump holds the view that the act has limited economic activities and given the two authorities too much control over the waters. Therefore, the likely amendments will be loosening the definitions of the terms of the act and limiting the number of water sources under the Jurisdiction of EPA and Army Corps of Engineers. The non-monitored water sources will be predisposed to pollution thus endangering the lives of the people and the ecosystem. This information will be relayed through social and mainstream media platforms.

Action 2

The second Action aims to popularize the intention to match to the streets and protest against the president’s action to rescind the Water Rule. Civil actions in the country have divided the citizenry with some leading to violence. Groups come up to hold demonstrations to stand in solidarity with the government. It is important that the demonstrators understand exactly what they are supposed to do at specific times. Since social media was used to educate the supporters, the event will be posted on these platforms. We will ask those interested to participate to confirm. Though the reactions may not be from the exact number of people who will participate, they will be instrumental in helping us estimate actual numbers and discern the general attitude of the public towards the civil action. The initial volunteers will also move around, talking to people and requesting them to support our move. The estimations, made during this process, are important when asking for security from the police and determining the meeting points. It will also help the organizers determine the time that will be taken to assemble the picketers and move from one point to the other. The demonstration will take place despite the number of people willing to join it.

Action 3

The third step will be marching to the streets and getting as many people as possible to join the protest. Once the number of people participating has been estimated, the organizers will communicate about the meeting point. The purpose of the demonstration is to make it known to the public, the government and any other stakeholders that we are concerned about rescinding of the Water Rule which opens our water sources to pollution. The demonstrators must be made to understand that destroying property or interrupting other people’s schedules will undermine the likelihood of getting more support from the members of the public and even the government. The mass action will be a simple march to the offices of EPA and Army Corps of Engineers and inform them about our concerns. If possible, we will also request that the heads of these agencies address the demonstrators to reassure them that they will protect our water sources.

Action 4

The last step will be presenting a petition to the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers which have been tasked with the responsibility of reviewing the Water Rule to ensure that they come up with what is best for the environment. If the organizers find out that there are many demonstrators in a certain state. Arrangements will be done to have these individuals participate in a parallel march to the respective agencies’ offices. These demonstrations should be carried out at the same time.


President Trump has often been accused for placing the interests of the biasness community above that of the common citizens (Nesbit n.p.). However, the president might have valid concerns that some of the laws in place limit economic activities. He has justified his actions to loosen the regulation of business activities by stating that he will create more jobs and income for Americans. For this case, he states that the activities of small entities have been limited by the Water Rule signed by president Obama. It is evident that there are two conflicting sides here. Each side can compromise and facilitate and equilibrium solution to the issue. However, compromising the environment will mean that the future generations will not enjoy the privileges that the current one has. The goal of this demonstration is to ensure that the review being done by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers protects the environment more than the interests of the business community.


Works Cited

“Rapanos v United States.” Cornel Law School, n.d. Accessed 10 March 2017.

“Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook City. v Army Corps of Engineers.” Cornel Law School, n.d. Accessed 10 March 2017.

Heinzerling, Lisa. “Inside EPA: A Former Insider’s Reflections on the Relationship between the Obama EPA and the Obama White House.” Pace Environmental Law Review, vol.31, no. 1, 2014, pp. 325-369.

Marsh, Rene, and Jeremy Diamond. “Trump to Sign Order Reviewing EPA Water Rule.” CNN, 1 March 2017. Accessed 10 March 2017.

Nesbit, Jeff. “A Handy List of Donald Trump’s Biggest Conflicts of Interest.” Time, 21 Nov. 2016. Accessed 10 March 2017.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Summary of the Clean Water Act.” EPA, 2016.,quality%20standards%20for%20surface%20waters.&text=Under%20the%20CWA%2C%20EPA%20has,setting%20wastewater%20standards%20for%20industry. Accessed 10 March 2017.

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