Trump’s EPA Takes First Step To Repeal And Replace The ‘Waters Of The US’ Rule

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

While Congress struggles to pass health care reform, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its plan to rewrite an Obama-era regulation critics feared would greatly expand federal control over bodies of water.

EPA published its repeal and replace plan in the Federal Register on Thursday.

It’s “the first step in a comprehensive, two-step process intended to review and revise the definition” of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), according to the filing.

EPA initiated a review of WOTUS in late June, and now the public has about 30 days to comment on the WOTUS rewrite, which is bound to be heavily criticized by activists.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order in February to rewrite WOTUS in a manner consistent with former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion in the 2006 Rapanos v. U.S. case.

The notice comes days after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt kicked off a four-state tour to promote the administration’s rewriting of the controversial rule that drew legal challenges from 31 states.

“The Trump administration and EPA are committed to empowering agriculture and business leaders who have been burdened with overreaching regulations that do little to promote environmental stewardship,” Pruitt said in South Carolina on Monday.

The Obama administration finalized WOTUS in 2015. The administration argued WOTUS would clear up confusion surrounding two previous Supreme Court rulings on federal jurisdiction over waterways.

But the courts quickly halted implementation of the rule after states and business groups challenged its legality.

Challengers argued WOTUS was an illegal expansion of authority over waters not traditionally regulated by federal agencies, including ditches, potholes and trenches. Environmentalists, on the other hand, argued WOTUS was needed to protect waterways from pollution.

“By beginning the process to redefine WOTUS, we are providing regulatory certainty for South Carolinians while working together with the state to keep our waters clean,” Pruitt said.

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