Do You Support Repealing the Obama-era Clean Water Rule?
Do you support the proposed repeal to the Waters of the United States rule?
by Countable | 9.12.19
What’s the story?
- The Trump administration on Thursday announced a legal repeal of the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule that limited the amount of pollution and chemicals in the nation’s rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands.
- Utilities, mining and farming interests have cheered the proposed changes to what’s commonly known as “WOTUS,” arguing that the original rule defined federally regulated waters too broadly.
What are people saying?
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler:
“Today’s final rule puts an end to an egregious power grab, eliminates an ongoing patchwork of clean water regulations and restores a longstanding and familiar regulatory framework while we consider public comments on our proposed revised definition of waters of the U.S.”
Jon Devine, director of federal water policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
- “The clean water rule represented solid science and smart public policy. Where it has been enforced, it has protected important waterways and wetlands, providing certainty to all stakeholders,” Devine said.
“The Trump administration’s wild-eyed attempts to reward polluters, however, knows no bounds, so it is repealing these important protections without regard for the law or sound science.”
- Farmers, real estate developers, golf course owners, and many Republican politicians opposed a 2015 clarification of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which extended protections to small waterways.
- WOTUS was designed to address the fact that the Clean Water Act didn’t thoroughly spell out which streams and wetlands were federally protected, triggering years of legal wrangling. WOTUS specified that “ephemeral” streams, in which water runs only during or after rainfalls, and wetlands that are not adjacent or connected to major bodies of water fell under federal protection.
- Then-EPA administrator Scott Pruitt issued a proposal in June 2017 to roll back the expanded definition. In January 2018, the EPA formally suspended the rule for two years, and in December, the administration unveiled a new plan to replace the rule.
- The revised rule would still protect larger bodies of water, the rivers that drain into them, and wetlands that are directly adjacent to those bodies of water, but would remove ephemeral streams and non-adjacent wetlands from coverage.
- EPA officials said they had no data on how many waterways would be excluded from federal jurisdiction under this new proposal. However, a document obtained by E&E News showed that the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers had estimated last year that 18 percent of streams and 51 percent of wetlands would lose federal protections under the revised rule.
What do you think?
Do you support the proposed revisions to the Waters of the United States rule? Why or why not? Tell your reps what you think, then share your thoughts below.
(Photo Credit: iStock / Andrei Stanescu)
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