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Trump EPA repeals Obama-era water protections to boost industry

13 September 2019

The EPA still has to propose a new definition for what bodies of water will be federally regulated that will replace the WOTUS rule.

But agricultural groups, an important political constituency for Mr. Trump, praised the repeal of a regulation that they said had restricted how farmers could use their land.

"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.

Under the 1972 Clean Water Act, the EPA's jurisdiction was statutorily limited to navigable waters.

The rollback is the latest in a series of actions by the Trump administration to weaken or undo major environmental rules.

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"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. Twenty-two states the District of Columbia and USA territories follow the 2015 rule, while the rest follow guidance dating back to the Reagan administration.

The final rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

AFBF President Zippy Duvall said Farm Bureau will now "work to ensure a fair and reasonable substitute that protects our water and our ability to work and care for the land".

"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. In 2017, he signed an executive order directing the agency to reconsider the rule and abide by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's plurality opinion in a case on the issue.

The WOTUS rule protected wetlands and streams from pollution by pesticides, mine waste and fertilizers. "It will certainly be challenged by the states - nearly half of which are now operating under the 2015 Rule - and by environmental groups".

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

"The President's Dirty Water Rule will pollute and poison the clean drinking water of tens of millions of families and communities".

Mentioning the recently filed lawsuit from New York State over the EPA's issuance of a Certificate of Completion for the Remedial Action for PCB removal in the Hudson River, Lopez called the threat of a lawsuit from the NRDC "constructive tension". "The extreme overreach from the past Administration had government taking the productivity of the land people had worked for years", says U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. "Trump's rule will be met with an equal amount of opposition and court challenges and attempts to strike it down".

"It made protecting water quality and conservation efforts more hard and created huge liabilities for farmers, especially when what waters would be regulated under the old rule could not be clearly defined". "I want to make sure that our regulations are grounded, that they have all the supporting information they need to be upheld by the courts".

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Trump EPA repeals Obama-era water protections to boost industry