Trump’s EPA Is About To Do The Unthinkable — Limit Its Own Power


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Chris White Tech Reporter
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is crafting a regulation dramatically curtailing the agency’s ability to retroactively veto water permission permits.

EPA’s regulation mirrors a memo former agency administrator Scott Pruitt drafted before resigning his post in July. His memo directed the Office of Water to create a rule prohibiting the EPA from vetoing a project before a permit is filed. Pruitt’s replacement — acting administrator Andrew Wheeler — is now picking up where his predecessor left off, according to E&E New’s report, which relies on unnamed sources.

The agency “is planning to submit a proposed rule nixing pre-emptive and retroactive vetoes to the White House for review by the end of December,” sources told E&E News. The Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for filling in waterways and wetlands under the Clean Water Act, but Section 404(c) of the law grants EPA the ability to veto permits.

Pruitt’s action came after the Obama administration employed the veto-power to retroactively scuttle the Spruce coal mine in West Virginia. The Obama-era EPA also used the maneuver in the case of the Pebble Mine in Alaska. President Donald Trump reversed his predecessor’s decision in July. (RELATED: Trump’s EPA Reverses Obama-Era Blocking Of Alaska’s Gold Pebble Mine)
Former President Barack Obama’s decision turned the mine into a political football game. Environmentalists rallied around the blockage and Republicans railed against what they feared was Obama’s willingness to overstep his authority. Activists believed the mine would pollute streams running into nearby Bristol Bay, Alaska — the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.

An EPA spokeswoman confirmed E&E News’s report, telling reporters that “continuing its work to evaluate updates to the regulations governing EPA’s role in the permitting process under section 404c of the Clean Water Act in order to increase predictability and provide regulatory certainty for landowners, investors, businesses and other stakeholders.”

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