Clean water rule suspended by the Trump administration
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt has suspended a clean water regulation that was established during the Obama administration just weeks before the directive would have been implemented.
Suspending the Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States rule, was one of President Trump’s top priorities when he took office. The law was intended to keep drinking water safe and to protect vulnerable waterways by limiting the use of chemical fertilizers and other pollutants.
The legislation would have required farmers and landowners to safeguard the streams and tributaries that flow through their property and merge with larger bodies of water. The Clean Water Rule was met with fierce opposition by critics who believed that expanding federal authority to regulate smaller bodies of water would ultimately hurt the economy.
Obama defended the measure, saying that it would “provide the clarity and certainty businesses and industry need about which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act, and it will ensure polluters who knowingly threaten our waters can be held accountable.”
The EPA has now officially filed the necessary documents to suspend the rule for two years while an updated version is drafted, which is expected to be much more lenient and industry-friendly.
Scott Pruitt said in a statement: “Today, E.P.A. is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers. The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) plans to file a lawsuit to lift the suspension, stating that this move by the EPA puts significant water supplies at risk. Jon Devine is the environmental advocacy group’s senior attorney and formerly worked at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Devine said in a blog post that he has witnessed hundreds of federal regulatory actions and yet he has “never seen anything as unlawful and reckless as the Trump administration’s scheme to repeal the Clean Water Rule.”
“After the Clean Water Rule, American families could be more confident that the creeks, ponds, and marshes they use for swimming and fishing – and depend on for drinking water – would not be recklessly polluted and would be cleaned up if they became contaminated,” said Devine.