EPA to finalize repeal of Obama-era clean water regulation

Pablo Tucker
September 13, 2019

Wheeler said that the EPA and the U.S. Army would reinstate water rules that were issued in the 1980s, and would begin re-defining which waterways can be regulated, a task to be completed by this winter.

Continuing its assault on rivers and clean water nationwide, the Trump administration today released its final rule repealing the Obama administration's Clean Water Rule.

"Today, EPA and the Department of the Army finalized a rule to repeal the previous administration's overreach in the federal regulation of US waters and recodify the longstanding and familiar regulatory text that previously existed", EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said.

Repeal is step one, Wheeler said.


Joining Lopez was Paul Molesky, representing the New York Farm Bureau, which formally welcomed the rollback.

President Barack Obama's Waters of the United States rule had defined which streams and wetlands are protected by the 1972 Clean Water Act from pollutants including pesticides, fertilizers and mine waste. 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. He adds that the 2015 rule had provoked 31 states to file complaints and petitions for legal review. "It doesn't settle the dispute". Wheeler unveiled a proposed replacement regulation last December. In 2006, US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia tried to overturn centuries of precedent by whipping out his Second Edition of Webster's New International Dictionary and latching on to a definition of "waters" that he found there. "If there's not a rule, that's not helpful to the business community".

Former EPA officials who've worked under Republican and Democratic administrations told NBC News that this rule change will only benefit mining industries, oil and gas pipeline corporations and land developers.

Wheeler, who said the administration will finalize a new definition for which water bodies deserve federal protection within a matter of months, said the agency is seeking to end any lingering uncertainty and return more oversight to individual states.


At Thursday' announcement by the EPA in Indianapolis, the state Department of Environmental Management expressed support for the repeal. "This repeal will not go unchallenged". WOTUS aimed to provide a guideline for what is considered a "water of the United States" under the Clean Water Act. "We are going to get caught in a position where we won't really be able to regulate chemicals in the US", University of Massachusetts Amherst environmental health scientist Laura Vandenberg says to Nature. In the case of WOTUS, he says, that took the form of wetlands permits. Getting a yes or no ruling from the Supreme Court wouldn't satisfy all the stakeholders.

"In my opinion, and I think it's shared by many, this was really just a power grab", said Miron, 65, whose family milks 120 cows and grows corn, soybeans and alfalfa.

"Nothing in the Obama regulations that came out prevented me from farming the way I was previously farming", she said.


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