EPA and Army Corps seek to rescind clean water rule


"Every community in America needs clean, safe water every day for every resident and President Trump's repeal of the Clean Water Rule puts that in serious jeopardy", said Sen.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced its plans today to repeal the Clean Water Rule, advancing the Trump administration's agenda to give industry and agribusiness free rein to pollute the drinking water sources of more than 100 million Americans, said EWG Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Scott Faber.

The rule also safeguards those waters for swimming, fishing and other activities.

The agencies are working to rescind the Waters of the United States rule, and reinstate the language of the rule before it was changed in 2015 by the Obama administration. His counterpart on the House Ag Committee, Michael Conaway, reacted similarly, "WOTUS has never been about clean water, it was about feeding the Obama EPA's insatiable appetite for power". At the time, the EPA and the Army Corps called the rule an "historic step" to protect clean water from pollution and degradation in streams and wetlands throughout the nation that would more "precisely define" the protected waters.

Today's action follows an executive order signed by President Trump that required the EPA to replace the rule with a very narrow interpretation of the Clean Water Act's ability to protect wetlands and other water bodies. It's possible, however, that the administration will use the rule's repeal as an argument that litigation regarding the regulation should be suspended, effectively killing environmentalists' hope that the rule will be upheld by the courts on its scientific and legal merits.

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The 2015 regulation sought to settle a debate over which waterways are covered under the Clean Water Act, which has dragged on for years and remained murky despite two Supreme Court rulings.

The Obama rule expanded the definition of "navigable waters" to include "intermittent streams" - that is, streams that sometimes had no water in them at all.

A preliminary version of the rule was released by the agencies Tuesday ahead of the proposal's expected publication in the Federal Register.

The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972 and last amended in 1987, is meant to protect the nation's waters from pollution. "We'll stand up to this reckless attack on our waters and health". "Tuesday's announcement shows EPA Administrator Pruitt recognizes the WOTUS rule for what it is-an illegal and risky mistake that needs to be corrected".

"Today's action by the administration will help spur US job creation by providing the regulatory certainty needed to encourage investment and advance America's energy leadership", Erik Milito, API upstream and industry operations group director, said in a statement. That means that in the absence of a clear federal definition of "navigable waters", businesses, landowners, and environmental groups will have to seek regulatory certainty through the courts, teeing up a patchwork of case-by-case litigation.