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article imageOp-Ed: EPA moves to rescind Obama-era clean water rule

By Karen Graham     Jun 28, 2017 in Environment
Washington - A major legal step was taken on Tuesday by the EPA to rescind a contested Obama-era regulation designed to limit pollution in about 60 percent of the nation's bodies of water.
The EPA, along with the Army Corps of Engineers released a 42-page proposal on Tuesday to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule, known as Waters of the United States, or Wotus. The proposal will reinstate the rule to what it was before the changes were made to it in 2015.
The Wotus rule updated the Federal Clean Water Act by defining what waterways, including rivers, streams, wetlands, and other bodies of water that can be allowed to be regulated by the federal government. While the rule was hailed as a step forward in protecting our waters, it was bitterly contested by farmers, landowners, and real estate developers as being an infringement on their property rights.
Algae and debris on the surface of the Susquehanna River that flows into the Chesapeake Bay.
Algae and debris on the surface of the Susquehanna River that flows into the Chesapeake Bay.
EPA
Basically, the rule was to regulate streams and other bodies of water that flowed downstream into larger water sources, like rivers, bays, and wetlands. However, AL.com reports that Republicans claimed it would give the EPA authority to regulate "puddles and ditches," a rather far-fetched notion.
The rollback on Wotus rule begins
President Trump signed one of his now infamous executive orders in February directing EPA chief Scott Pruitt to begin the legal process of rolling back the water rule, calling it “one of the worst examples of federal regulation.”
Well, Pruitt's 42-page proposal was released on Tuesday and with little fanfare. However, it is going to be a long and bumpy road to rescind the Wotus rule. It begins with the lengthy process of posting the proposal in the Federal Register.
 Fencing livestock in the stream bed  2007  Lexington  KY. USEPA  
This stream is included in the Wa...
"Fencing livestock in the stream bed, 2007, Lexington, KY. USEPA" This stream is included in the Waters of the US regulation.
EPA
The official version will appear in a forthcoming Federal Register publication, which will appear on the Government Printing Office's FDsys website and on Regulations.gov in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203.
This writer checked the two websites and the proposal has not been published online as of Wednesday, but it will appear shortly. Once the proposal is published in the Federal Register, the public will be allowed to comment on the proposal. While the proposal is expected to have far fewer restrictions and pollution protections, the EPA will also have to detail its legal reasoning for scaling back the rule.
What is disheartening is the partisan politics that are still very obviously at play, especially in this particular instance. The New York Times says that supporters and opponents of Trump's move to rollback Obama-era protections were "aggressive," and that is the way it has been since Trump took office. Any environmental regulations with Obama's signature are being erased and with a great deal of glee.
From EPA photo files. Picture taken four days after Gold King mine spill shows river still flowing a...
From EPA photo files. Picture taken four days after Gold King mine spill shows river still flowing a golden yellow from toxic water.
Environmental Protection Agency
“This proposal strikes directly at public health,” said Rhea Suh, the president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. “It would strip out needed protections for the streams that feed drinking water sources for one in every three Americans. Clean water is too important for that. We’ll stand up to this reckless attack on our waters and health.”
Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the Republican chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and an ardent champion of Mr. Trump’s push to unravel environmental regulations is delighted with the proposal. “The Wotus rule would have put backyard ponds, puddles, and prairie potholes under Washington’s control,” he said in a statement, which is, quite frankly, a bit overboard.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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