The EPA, which is working in concert with the Army Corps of Engineers, is seeking to limit the authority of the federal government when it comes to regulating waterways under the Clean Water Act. The Obama administration had said that the federal government could oversee smaller bodies of water that fed into larger navigable waterways. Doing so would protect drinking water for 117 million Americans, it said. It also said that wildlife and outdoorsmen also depended on the broader view.
But President Trump signed an executive order in February that had asked EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to review that 2015 ruling, which has been held up in the court system and which has not been enforced. His administration’s view is that the intent of the original Clean Water Act of 1972 had been to protect navigable waters that led to interstate commerce — not smaller bodies of water.
That’s a view endorsed by the agricultural community as well as both larger and smaller businesses that say Obama’s rule would have been burdensome and restricted commerce had it been enforced. Meantime, EPA Administrator Pruitt said the goal is to keep waters free from pollution while promoting economic growth.
“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” said Pruitt, in a statement. “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.”
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