Trump is making headway on his campaign promises Tuesday, as the EPA formally submitted a proposal to repeal an Obama era regulation on government oversight of small waterways.
In tandem with the Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA has proposed that when federal oversight of a certain waterway is in question, a guidance document from 2008 would be enforced.
Enforcing the guidance document would weaken the pollution control mandate of the federal government over small waterways, and begin to fulfill Trump’s campaign promise of dismantling Obama’s “Waters of the United States” legislation. Republicans representing small southern and midwestern farmers have long fought against it.
“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 a statement.
Farmers will now have to worry less about the destination of the harmful runoff crop irrigation creates, as the number of small waterways under federal guise shrinks:
“This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine ‘waters of the U.S.’ and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.”
It’s a conflict between a collective need to preserve the environment and limiting big government regulation, and environmentalists aren’t surprised which won.
“It is appalling, though not surprising, that the Trump administration is rolling back these critical protections in order to help out corporate interests,” League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said in a statement.
There are small business interests on both sides of the issue as well.
“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. “But just like the attacks on efforts to tackle climate change and the proposed rollback of our national monuments, and so much more, the Trump administration will face fierce opposition.”
But if questions of a possible health concern associated with a loosening of the regulations becomes reality, this might be a different story.
“This proposal strikes directly at public health,” said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It would strip out needed protections for the streams that feed drinking water sources for one in every three Americans. Clean water is too important for that. We’ll stand up to this reckless attack on our waters and health.”
In the end, it marks a victory for Trump and officials at the EPA and Chamber of Commerce.
“The final WOTUS rule issued by the last administration was unworkable, a fact acknowledged by courts around the country, and amounted to a massive grab of regulatory authority by an EPA that was overreaching,” said Bill Kovacs, vice president for environment and regulatory policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward to working with Administrator Pruitt and his team to craft a rule that protects public health and the environment, while giving clarity and certainty to our nation’s farmers and job creators.”
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