President Trump Begins Dismantling Obama's EPA Regulations on Waterways

President Trump Begins Dismantling Obama's EPA Regulations on Waterways

On Tuesday, the president made good on his promise by ordering the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to revise the rule that expanded the definition of waterways subject to Clean Water Act oversight. Covering 60 percent of USA waterways, it included smaller creeks, wetlands and other water bodies for protection under the Clean Water Act - but was met with resistance from property owners, farmers and others.

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA): "We appreciate the Trump Administration's commitment to reducing regulatory burdens for America's farmers and ranchers", said NCGA President Wesley Spurlock.

Trump had railed against the rule during his campaign and Republicans have been fighting it since its inception, slamming it as an example of federal overreach. "That's why this unworkable federal rule - which creates uncertainty about the waters EPA can regulate - would hit our family farmers and rural communities so hard".

While 32 states and upward of 50 business, manufacturing and agriculture groups challenged the rule, seven states supported it and many environmental groups that largely back the rule challenged certain provisions in the rulemaking.

The order instructs both departments to formally reconsider the Water of the United States rule or WOTUS.

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Despite the Trump administration's strong opposition to the rule, reversing it is no easy matter, triggering a new, potentially lengthy, rule-making process.

In addition, the official added, the directive will tell the two agencies to "consider thinking about" the late Justice Antonin Scalia's decision in the 2006 that suggested dramatically curtailing federal jurisdiction over smaller water bodies.

"A few years ago the EPA decided that navigable waters can mean almost every puddle or every ditch".

"Trump just put millions of acres of wetlands on the chopping block, and our wildlife and waters will suffer", Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

"After working with North Dakota farmers and ranchers for years to stop this unworkable EPA rule, the president's action today shows our concerns have been heard loud and clear", Heitkamp said. But the regulation broadened that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. The more water bodies that are explicitly protected under the Clean Water Act, the more regulatory power the EPA has in setting the water quality standards, issuing permits and penalizing companies and farmers who put drinking water and ecosystems at risk. "Today's action is as much a beginning as an end, and there is much work to do to ensure that any revised rule is transparent and fair for Americas farmers and ranchers".

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