Published: Fri, September 13, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Sen. Gardner cheers Trump administration decision to drop water protection rule

Sen. Gardner cheers Trump administration decision to drop water protection rule

Agricultural organizations are celebrating the official repeal of a rule that they have been fighting since 2015 - Waters of the United States, better known as WOTUS.

"Today, EPA and the Department of the Army finalized a rule to repeal the previous administration's overreach in the federal regulation of US waters and recodify the longstanding and familiar regulatory text that previously existed", EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said.

Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said the 2015 rule had generated a greater sense of urgency among its membership than any other issue.

But reversing older regulations, such as the Clean Water Rule, has proved more hard. "The next WOTUS rule must maintain the important balance between private property rights and environmental protection".

The Trump administration is expected to complete this week rollback of clean water rules adopted by the Obama administration.

Wheeler, who said the administration will finalize a new definition for which water bodies deserve federal protection within a matter of months, said the agency is seeking to end any lingering uncertainty and return more oversight to individual states.

Farmers say the rule imposed too much bureaucracy on their operations as it meant to limit releases of chemicals and animal waste that can flow downstream and contribute to pollution or algae blooms and Trump's promise to repeal it has been a big applause line at the president's campaign rallies.

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The rule greatly expanded the EPA's federal jurisdiction and scope of waterbodies subject to Clean Water Act requirements.

President Barack Obama's 2015 Waters of the United States rule defined which streams and wetlands are protected by the 1972 Clean Water Act from pollutants including pesticides, fertilizers and mine waste.

For more than 46 years, the Clean Water Act has proved effective at making rivers, lakes, and streams safer for swimming, fishing, and drinking.

But repealing the rule without a replacement leaves behind "legal chaos", says Robert Glennon, a law professor at the University of Arizona.

Lopez said he believes the 2015 rule was an "inappropriate expansion of the waters' definition".

The regulation drew quick legal challenges from 31 states and court rulings blocking its implementation in some. "Trump's rule will be met with an equal amount of opposition and court challenges and attempts to strike it down".

"This was nothing more than a giant power grab by the Obama Administration that had real and harmful consequences on America's hardworking farmers and small business owners", Congressman Collins said. It directs leadership and staff in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and the Office of Research and Development to prioritize ongoing efforts and to direct existing resources toward additional activities that will demonstrate measurable impacts in the reduction of animal testing while ensuring protection of human health and the environment.

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