| 27 June 2017
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers released a proposal on Tuesday to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule, the latest move by the Trump administration to unwind environmental regulations put in place under former President Barack Obama.
The agencies are working to rescind the rule, known as the Waters of the United States rule, and reinstate the language of the rule before it was changed in 2015.
“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said.
In 2015, EPA and the Army Corps issued what they called the Waters of the United States rule to clarify which bodies of water should be regulated under the Clean Water Act.
The act, passed in 1972 and last amended in 1987, is intended to protect the nation’s waters from pollution.
In February, President Donald Trump said during the signing of an executive order calling for a review of the rule that the act should apply only to navigable waters that affect interstate commerce.
Some lawmakers from states with large rural areas praised the move.
“Out of state D.C. bureaucrats shouldn’t impose regulations that hurt Montana farmers, ranchers and landowners,” said the state’s Republican senator, Steve Daines.
Environmental groups criticized the move, saying it ignores public input and would put parts of the country like the Midwestern Great Lakes at risk.
“This foolish rollback of clean water standards rejects years of work building stakeholder input and scientific data support, and it imperils the progress for safe clean drinking water in the Midwest,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.
The rule had been placed on hold in 2015 by a federal court appeals court.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Leslie Adler and Dan Grebler)