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EPA moves to kill Waters of the U.S. rule

The Trump administration on Tuesday began the process of formally rescinding the highly controversial “Waters of the U.S.” rule, an Obama-era regulation that gave Washington broad powers over streams and other small bodies of water across the country.

The rule, put forth in 2015 but subsequently stayed by the Supreme Court before going into effect, was one of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s top targets when he took the helm at the agency. President Trump earlier this year signed an executive order directing Mr. Pruitt to review the rule, and with Tuesday’s action, the EPA says it’s finalized that review and will move to permanently strike the regulation from the books.

“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” Mr. Pruitt said in a statement. “This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine ‘waters of the U.S.’ and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.”

The action would return EPA authority over waterways to where it stood prior to the Waters of the U.S. rule. Under the Clean Water Act, the agency has jurisdiction over “navigable” waters.

Supporters of the rule have said that definition wasn’t specific enough, and allowed for pollution to run from streams and other small waters into larger bodies that supply drinking water.

But critics, including agriculture, business, and virtually all conservatives Washington and across the country, said the regulation was yet another power grab by the EPA.

Moving forward, the administration aims to redefine “waters of the U.S.” in accordance with the original language in the Clean Water Act.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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