The Trump administration took an important step in reversing the Obama administration’s overreaching water regulations.
Following up its announcement last month, the EPA began repealing and replacing the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, The Washington Times reports:
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army announced that the proposed water rule withdrawal would be published Thursday in the Federal Register, launching the 30-day comment period.
In addition to rescinding the 2015 Clean Water Rule, the agencies said they also will re-evaluate the definition of U.S. waters, in keeping with President Trump’s Feb. 28 executive order.
“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” EPA Administrator Scott 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.”
WOTUS expanded the definition of federally-regulated bodies of water so broadly that farmers, small businesses, and other land owners would have been forced to get costly federal permits to build and invest.
The U.S. Chamber fought WOTUS in the federal courts [see here and here] and convinced a court to put a nationwide hold on the rule in 2015.
Rolling back this regulatory overreach is welcome, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President for Environment, Technology, and Regulatory Affairs Bill Kovacs said:
The Chamber has long maintained that the 2015 Waters of the United States rule was unworkable for America’s businesses, farmers, and land owners. We are pleased to see the EPA on the path to repealing the rule and crafting a new definition that protects the environment and promotes economic growth.
Repealing WOTUS is the latest in an extensive effort by the Trump administration and Congress to tear down growth-inhibiting regulatory barriers.
With how far-reaching the Obama administration’s water rule is, starting over will bring a sense of relief to land owners.