White House Repeals Obama-Era Clean Water Rule

September 13, 2019 by Dan McCue

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.

Environment

Nation's Mayors at Forefront of Climate Change Fight
Climate
Nation's Mayors at Forefront of Climate Change Fight
January 24, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – Though the Trump administration continues to deny the validity of climate science, a new report suggests that both Democratic and Republican mayors across the nation are taking definitive steps to reduce carbon pollution, a leading contributor to climate change. The report, which was released... Read More

Senate Approves Revised USMCA Trade Deal by Huge Margin
Trade
Senate Approves Revised USMCA Trade Deal by Huge Margin
January 17, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON — The Senate handed President Donald Trump a policy victory on Thursday, backing USMCA, the new North American trade deal, the same day the chamber turned its attention to the president's impeachment trial. Once it's signed by Trump, USMCA will replace the 25-year-old North American... Read More

USMCA Bill Tough Vote for Democrats Over Lack of Environmental Protections
Trade
USMCA Bill Tough Vote for Democrats Over Lack of Environmental Protections

WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeff Merkley faced a difficult vote Tuesday as he joined colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to advance the bill that would implement President Donald Trump’s new trade deal. The Oregon Democrat said the pact does not go far enough... Read More

Trump Seeks Exempting Some Pipelines and Highways From Environmental Review
Environment
Trump Seeks Exempting Some Pipelines and Highways From Environmental Review

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday unveiled a proposed revision of the federal environmental review process, a move that would fast-track the construction of some infrastructure projects, including pipelines, highways and airports. The change, which would apply to the National Environmental Policy Act enacted under... Read More

Congress Plans for Financial Damage Caused by Ignoring Climate Change
Climate
Congress Plans for Financial Damage Caused by Ignoring Climate Change
January 4, 2020
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- Environmentalists and a South Carolina mayor warned Congress recently that climate change will take an increasing toll on the lives and finances of Americans if the federal government does not act soon. They discussed how greenhouse gas emissions are damaging the real estate and... Read More

Environmentalists Win Lawsuit Protecting Ocean Monuments
Environment
Environmentalists Win Lawsuit Protecting Ocean Monuments
January 4, 2020
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON - Environmentalists won an appeals court ruling in Washington, D.C. last week protecting ocean marine national monuments. Marine national monuments refer to offshore underwater areas intended to protect coral reefs or wildlife. There are five of them in U.S. territorial waters. The U.S. Court of... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top