The original measure, known as the United States Waters Rule, dates back to the Obama administration and extended the range of water bodies subject to the Clean Water Act of 1972, an issue that lacked clarity for decades. decades.
The Obama administration has protected about 60% of the country’s waterways, including large bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay, the Mississippi River, and the Puget Sound, as well as smaller springs, wetlands. , seasonal streams and temporarily underground streams. It has limited the release of pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides and industrial chemicals into these waters.
Mr Trump repealed the policy in 2019, calling it “one of the most ridiculous regulations of all,” and said its repeal made farmers cry in gratitude. A year later, its EPA finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which removed protections from more than half of the country’s wetlands and hundreds of thousands of miles of upstream streams by reducing the definition of what constitutes “United States water”.
In doing so, Mr. Trump has presented the change as the legitimate return of power from the federal government to landowners and states. In a statement Wednesday, Chuck Fowke, president of the National Association of Homebuilders, expressed concern that the changes to the water rule “add unnecessary requirements” that undermine housing affordability.
Tuesday’s announcement does not initiate the process of reviewing the regulations. This will come when the EPA officially enacts a proposed new rule, possibly later this year. Wednesday’s action was a legal move in which the Justice Department and the Army Department formally called for the Trump-era rule to be repealed.
“Communities deserve our country’s waters to be protected,” Jaime A. Pinkham, acting deputy secretary of the military for civilian works, said in a statement. He said the Trump-era rule resulted in a significant drop in determinations of waters that would otherwise have enjoyed protection.
Environmental groups and Congressional Democrats welcomed the announcement and urged the administration to work quickly to unravel Trump policies. “Every day the dirty water rule remains in effect, it causes irreparable damage to our health, our environment and our economies,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon and chairman of the committee. the Chamber on Transport and Infrastructure. in a report.