EPA moves to repeal Obama water rule

Scott Pruitt by Gage Skidmore used under CC BY-SA 2.0			Scott Pruitt by Gage Skidmore used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Scott Pruitt by Gage Skidmore used under CC BY-SA 2.0 Scott Pruitt by Gage Skidmore used under CC BY-SA 2.0

"The Clean Water Rule is vital for protecting the small streams and wetlands that our families, communities, and businesses depend on, and we know this is the first step in the administration's effort to gut the Clean Water Act itself", he said.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has formally proposed the repeal of the Obama administration's controversial regulation which extended the federal government's control over small waterways.

The Trump administration Tuesday announced plans to scrap an Obama-era environmental rule that had been attacked as federal overreach by farmers and property-rights groups. Today's proposed repeal would not only bring back the confusion and discord over what exactly the Clean Water Act protects, but would make it easier for polluters to contaminate the nation's waters. Less certain is the status of some 2 million miles of headwaters and streams that flow only part of the year - 60 percent of the river and stream miles in the Lower 48 states - plus 20 million acres of wetlands that aren't directly connected to large waterways.

The regulation was in effect for a short period in 2015 before the appeals court issued a stay.

Pruitt, who was Oklahoma's attorney general when the rule was implemented, sued the EPA over the rule along with several other state attorneys general, including Alabama's Luther Strange, now in the U.S. Senate. Clean water is too important for that. In issuing its nationally applicable stay of the rule on October 9, 2015, the Sixth Circuit found that the rule's challengers had "a substantial likelihood of success" in proving the rule was illegal.

Response to Tuesday's announcement largely fell down party lines, with congressional Republicans hailing the move. "I applaud the EPA for taking additional steps to repeal the WOTUS rule, which has burdened rural Nevadans and stifled job creation in Nevada".

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"With a rewrite of the WOTUS rule, I look forward to seeing a rule that recognizes and respects the environmental strides taken by the American farmer and rancher".

The rule "would have put backyard ponds, puddles and prairie potholes under Washington's control", said Sen.

In his executive order, Trump instructed the agencies to redesign the rule in keeping with a 2006 opinion by the late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. "Whether it's Marlow from Ruby Valley or Darryl from Yerington, Nevadans around the state have told me that they fear the WOTUS rule provides federal agencies with nearly unlimited authority to regulate their farms and ranches at their own discretion", said Heller. It was a federal land grab, pure and simple, threatening citizens' property rights and state authority, as well as the Constitution's separation of powers.

Others said the rollback will lead to pollution in some of the country's most sensitive wetland areas.

"It goes without saying that the Trump Administration doesn't care about the environment, public health, or its duty to protect our most precious natural resources - and that is why it's up to us, the American people, to hold them accountable".

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