President Trump and the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, at the White House in February 2017. Photo: Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

By Coral Davenport
31 January 2018

WASHINGTON (The New York Times) – The Trump administration has formally suspended a major Obama-era clean water regulation ahead of plans to issue its own version of the rule later this year.

President Trump has taken aim at the bitterly contested rule, known as Waters of the United States, since his campaign, calling it “one of the worst examples of federal regulation.” Among Mr. Trump’s first actions in office was an executive order directing his Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, to begin the legal process of rescinding the rule and replacing it with a more industry-friendly alternative.

On Wednesday, Mr. Pruitt took a major step toward completing that task, filing the legal documents required to suspend the Obama rule for two years. The rule was set to be implemented in the coming weeks, following a Supreme Court decision last week that gave jurisdiction of the matter to district courts.

Having suspended the water rule, Mr. Pruitt is now crafting a Trump administration version, which is expected to include much looser regulatory requirements on how farmers, ranchers, and real estate developers must safeguard the streams and tributaries that flow through their property and into larger bodies of water.

Mr. Pruitt told a conference of state agricultural commissioners that he intends to issue a draft proposal of replacement water regulations in the spring and to finalize new rules this year, according to Politico.

The Waters of the United States rule, designed to limit pollution in about 60 percent of the nation’s bodies of water, was put forth by the E.P.A. and the Army Corps of Engineers in 2015. It had extended existing federal protections of large bodies of water, such as the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound, to smaller bodies that flow into them, such as rivers, small waterways and wetlands.

Issued under the authority of the 1972 Clean Water Act, the rule has been hailed by environmentalists. But farmers, ranchers and real estate developers oppose it as an infringement on their property rights. [more]

E.P.A. Blocks Obama-Era Clean Water Rule

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