Obama-era clean water protections will soon be stripped and replaced. The Trump administration will finalize its replacement of the Waters of the United States rule by “rolling back protections for some wetlands and streams that run intermittently or temporarily underground,” EcoWatch reported.
The Trump administration had their mind set on undoing this rule since Donald Trump first took office and announced a repeal in September 2019. The rule, which was controversial before Trump took office, is said to give too much power to the federal government instead of farmers and businesses and was subsequently suspended by court ruling in 28 states.
“I terminated one of the most ridiculous regulations of all: the last administration’s disastrous Waters of the United States rule,” Trump said. “Thank you. It’s gone. That was a rule that basically took your property away from you.”
The Clean Water Rule redefined the “waters of the United States” to include streams and wetlands to the 1972 Clean Water Act.
The new rule, which is being challenged by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, will also get rid of a requirement that “landowners seek permits from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which had considered permits on a case-by-case basis before 2015,” EcoWatch said.
“This will be the biggest loss of clean water protection the country has ever seen,” Blan Holman, lawyer for Southern Environmental Law Center, said. “This puts drinking water for millions of Americans at risk of contamination from unregulated pollution. This is not just undoing the Obama rule. This is stripping away protections that were put in place in the ’70s and ’80s that Americans have relied on for their health.”
The EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board questioned the science behind the Trump administration’s repeal saying its replacement “neglects established science” by “failing to acknowledge watershed systems,” The New York Times reported.
“This is rolling back federal jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act further than it’s ever been before,” Patrick Parenteau, Vermont Law School environmental law professor said. “Waters that have been protected for almost 50 years will no longer be protected under the Clean Water Act.”