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EPA moves to revoke Clean Water Rule

EPA moves to revoke Clean Water Rule
July 07
16:39 2017

Since President Donald Trump has taken office, unpredictable actions are a norm for this administration. One of the many executive orders aimed at curtailing Obama-era policies involves the Clean Water Rule, or the Waters of the United States (WOTUS).

Originally, this rule looked at the 1972 Clean Water Act, which allowed federal agencies to protect and regulate navigable rivers and lakes. However, there was debate over the status of 60 percent of rivers and streams in the lower 48 states.

Under the Obama administration, these waters were finally federally protected in 2015. This also allowed the federal government to issue authority over major water bodies, wetlands, rivers, and streams that fed into them.

In late February, President Trump signed an executive order calling for a revisit of the regulation among the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers. In short, this order redefined which bodies of waters should be under regulation, relying on the opinion of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who made the case that it should only apply to “navigable waters.”

Revoking this rule would not only strip the protections needed for the streams that feed into drinking water sources, but would also make it much easier for irresponsible developers and landowners to possibly contaminate the waters and spread pollution.

While more rules may seem controlling, or unnecessary, it’s important to have structured regulations in order to provide suitable drinking water to civilians.
Various environmental groups have stated their dissenting opinions on the repeal, saying it would remove protections over drinking water for one in three Americans. The idea of retracting this rule has sparked a national outrage, resulting in nearly 500,000 public comments which urge the federal government to keep the existing regulation.

According to Science Magazine, the Trump administration has been trying to avoid a scientific debate, noting that “Science does not provide bright line boundaries with respect to where ‘Water ends’ for the purpose of the [Clean Water Act].”

While environmental groups are opposed to this idea, repealing the Clean Water Act is a big step for farmers and ranchers across the country. Previous regulations were not appealing to them because farmers and other private business owners did not like having to follow federal regulations.

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