White House Repeals Obama-Era Clean Water Rule
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced Thursday that it is repealing an Obama-era clean water rule that had placed limits on polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands and other bodies of water.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the repeal of the 2015 Waters of the United States rule will go into effect in a matter of weeks.
President Donald Trump has been calling for the elimination of the rule since he was a candidate on the 2016 campaign trail, maintaining that it was an example of federal overreach that infringed on the rights of real estate developers, farmers and rural landowners.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler echoed the president’s sentiments during a Thursday press conference, saying “Today’s final rule puts an end to an egregious power-grab.”
Going forward, he said, the administration’s replacement rule will clearly define “where federal jurisdiction begins and ends.”
As a result, Wheeler promised, farmers, private property owners and businesses “will spend less time and money determining whether they need a federal permit and more time building infrastructure.”
R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, said the new rule will replace a “patchwork of regulations that exist across the country as a result of various judicial decisions enjoining the 2015 Rule.
“This final rule reestablishes national consistency across the country by returning all jurisdictions to the longstanding regulatory framework that existed prior to the 2015 Rule, which is more familiar to the agencies, States, Tribes, local governments, regulated entities, and the public while the agencies engage in a second rulemaking to revise the definition of ‘waters of the United States.’”
Among those who immediately cheered the move was the American Farm Bureau Federation.
“Farmers and ranchers share the goal of ensuring clean water, but the 2015 Waters of the United States rule was unreasonable and unworkable,” said Zippy Duvall, the federation’s president. “It made conservation more difficult and created huge liabilities for farmers.”
“No regulation is perfect, and no rule can accommodate every concern, but the 2015 rule was especially egregious. We are relieved to put it behind us,” Duvall continued. ” We are now working to ensure a fair and reasonable substitute that protects our water and our ability to work and care for the land.”
But environmentalists said the move would leave millions of Americans with less safe drinking water and damage wetlands that prevent flooding.
Jon Devine, director of federal water policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council, issued a statement saying, “This unsubstantiated action is illegal and will certainly be challenged in court.”
The Obama administration drafted the 2015 rule under the authority of the Clean Water Act. It extended federal authority to limit pollution in large bodies of water, like the Chesapeake Bay and the smaller bodies of water that drain into them, including small streams and wetlands.
Under the rule, farmers, like Duvall’s members were prohibited from planting certain crops if a wetland or stream traversed their land, and they had to secure federal permits is they wanted to use chemical pesticides.
The Trump administration rule is still being written by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but it is expected to keep federal protections for larger bodies and the rivers that flow into them in place.
Bodies of water that will no longer be subject to protections include isolated wetlands, and streams and ponds that emerge only in heavy rains.
The final rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
In The News
RESERVE, La. (AP) — Michael Coleman's house is the last one standing on his tiny street, squeezed between a sprawling... Read More
RESERVE, La. (AP) — Michael Coleman's house is the last one standing on his tiny street, squeezed between a sprawling oil refinery whose sounds and smells keep him up at night and a massive grain elevator that covers his pickup in dust and, he says, exacerbates... Read More
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that Tennessee and Mississippi must limit their use of water from... Read More
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that Tennessee and Mississippi must limit their use of water from an underground aquifer to give each other a chance at it. The ruling takes on added significance as global warming makes water rights a touchier subject... Read More
WASHINGTON — A new, groundbreaking study suggests not only is there strong bipartisan support for corporate efforts to address environmental,... Read More
WASHINGTON — A new, groundbreaking study suggests not only is there strong bipartisan support for corporate efforts to address environmental, social and governance challenges, but that the bipartisan appeal of these initiatives dramatically increases among Americans under the age of 45. The study, “Unlocking the Bipartisan... Read More
WASHINGTON — Representatives from more than 100 countries recently gathered in Glasgow, Scotland, for the COP26 climate conference in an... Read More
WASHINGTON — Representatives from more than 100 countries recently gathered in Glasgow, Scotland, for the COP26 climate conference in an effort to pledge commitments and action against climate change, especially actions to prevent temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius, which would unleash severe climate change... Read More
WASHINGTON — House Democrats succeeded in including a proposed fee on methane emissions in the Build Back Better Act, but... Read More
WASHINGTON — House Democrats succeeded in including a proposed fee on methane emissions in the Build Back Better Act, but the measure will have to endure scrutiny from centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., before it becomes law. The Democrats' framework for the Build Back Better Act... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats brushed aside months-long divisions and approached House passage of their expansive social and environment bill Friday,... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats brushed aside months-long divisions and approached House passage of their expansive social and environment bill Friday, as President Joe Biden and his party neared a defining win in their drive to use their control of government to funnel its resources toward their... Read More