Trump's EPA to finalize rollback of Obama's clean water protections

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Writing in the Des Moines Register on Thursday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James call the Obama rule "an egregious power grab" that led to even isolated ponds being subjected to federal regulation. 'Where it has been enforced, it has protected important waterways and wetlands, providing certainty to all stakeholders'. Farm and business groups have criticized WOTUS from its inception in 2015 as federal overreach, both in terms of how it was applied and whether the EPA had that power to begin with.

Both the policies laid out in the proposal and the rationalizations behind them were nearly instantly called into question when it was first unveiled, and while it appears the administration is willing to go to great lengths to see it implemented, it remains to be seen just how much leeway it will ultimately have. "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".

Betsy Southerland, who was director of science and technology in EPA's Office of Water during the Obama administration, said revoking its policy would create further regulatory confusion.

"It can't be much longer before the Supreme Court decides to hear a case from one of the circuits", Glennon says. "What they are doing with this repeal, is leaving it to the states to handle it". In 2016, the EPA was tasked with testing all of them for human health concerns-but on a pretty loose timeline. Put simply, what goes up must come down, and so any impacts to headwater streams, wetlands and other bodies in a watershed will naturally aggregate and coalesce downstream. "Wetlands are big flood control functions and filter pollutants out before they get to streams that we drink from".

But environmental advocates are blasting the change, saying it removes protections for water supplies including wetlands and seasonal streams.

"EPA is misleading the public by claiming that this regulation simply repeals the 2015 Clean Water Rule", said Kelly Foster, a Waterkeeper Alliance senior attorney.

"By repealing the Clean Water Rule, this administration is opening our iconic waterways to a flood of pollution", said Bart Johnsen-Harris of Environment America.

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"We are really excited as this has been something we've wanted for quite some time", Kitty Block, president and chief executive, Humane Society of the United States, told The Times.

"This rule has serious implications for our local farmers, it allows bureaucrats to determine if small divots or puddles were considered "navigable waters".

"Repealing the rule is a major win for American agriculture", noted U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, in remarks he made at the presentation. "They're more efficient and save lives".

"After years spent fighting the 2015 WOTUS Rule in the halls of Congress, in the Courts, and at the EPA, cattle producers will sleep a little easier tonight knowing that the nightmare is over", she said.

Suffered from certain procedural errors and a lack of adequate record support as it relates to the 2015 rule's distance-based limitations. Should a legal challenge to the Trump rule succeed, it is possible a court will place a nationwide stay on its effectiveness, as occurred with the Obama-era rule.

Edward's group is not alone in that challenge. "This is shameful and unsafe", said Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice president. "We plan to continue to litigate as necessary to make sure that the clean water protections remain consistent with the full force of the law". EPA officials say these moves have saved Americans more than $3.5 billion.

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