So many choices this morning, but I try not to be greedy: EPA moves to rescind controversial Clean Water rule
It came as no surprise, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that it is moving to withdraw the so-called Clean Water Rule, potentially making it easier for farmers, builders and others to disturb some streams or wetlands.The Obama administrations interpretation of the Waters of the US rule was the greatest land grab in US history. By essentially declaring that any land impacted by running water at any time (with some exceptions that an administration could cancel at any time, citing the need, was potentially subject to the EPA's regulation
The regulation, also known as the “Waters of the United States” rule, had been targeted for rollback since February, when President Trump issued an executive order instructing his administration to begin work on the “elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule.”
It had been adopted in 2015 by the Obama administration, but drew intense opposition from the American Farm Bureau, National Association of Home Builders and other agricultural and industry interests.
"We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in the agency’s announcement.
The Farm Bureau issued a statement saying farmers and ranchers were cheering the EPA’s action.
But it drew intense criticism from environmentalists, who argued that it made it easier for industry to pollute water Americans relied of for drinking, swimming and fishing.
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The Clean Water rule never actually took effect, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit had issued a nationwide stay pending a full review of lawsuits challenging its legality.
The EPA said Tuesday that it was proposing to rescind the rule, and as a temporary measure, reinstate the regulatory language defining waters of the United States that had been in effect before the Obama action. The agency also said that it has begun “deliberations and outreach” toward drafting an entirely new interpretation of what streams and wetlands fall under federal jurisdiction.
High court decisions during the George W. Bush administration had provided conflicting guidance, though the more conservative justices had argued for much narrower federal oversight. Trump’s executive order suggested heeding the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s especially conservative opinion in one of the cases, which environmentalists and some scientists worry could result in the loss of federal protection for many more wetlands and streams.
Repealing the Obama Clean Water rule and adopting an entirely new one could take a year or more, and is likely to draw lawsuits from environmental groups that could sideline it as well.