Trump Administration Repeals the Waters of the United States Rule

It was announced that the Trump Administration will be repealing the clean water regulation placed during the Obama Administration.

What We Know:

  • The regulation restricts the polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands and other bodies of water. During the time of the Obama Administration, they created a list of environmental rules. In those rules, there are restrictions mostly on eliminating fossil fuel pollution – coal-fired power plantsautomobile tailpipes and oil and gas leaks – but also restricts chemical hazards like pesticides. The Obama Administration expanded the legal definitions of “waters of the United States” under the 1972 Clean Water Act.
  • Trump’s Administration is trying to make it difficult for future administrations to undo this new reading of the regulation. Within weeks, companies or polluters will no longer need a permit to discharge potentially harmful substances into many streams and wetlands. Patrick Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at the Vermont Law School, brings the point that the extra rules of environmental rules have been burdensome for farmers and industry.
  • This was supported by Andrew Wheeler’s [15th Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency] statement that the rollback would mean “farmers, property owners and businesses will spend less time and money determining whether they need a federal permit and more time building infrastructure.”
  • This is a very controversial topic due to the contrasting business side and the environmental and health side of this issue. Environmentalists are not only concerned about the health of the wildlife that it would affect, but they’re also concerned for the human lives as well. Director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, Laura Rubin, explains that “with many of our cities and towns living with unsafe drinking water, now is not the time to cut back on clean water enforcement.”
  • The purpose of the strict reading of the 1972 Clean Water Act under Obama, was to limit pollution in “about 60 percent of the nation’s bodies of water.” They did so by extending the already present federal authority to limit pollution into these large bodies of waters to also include the bodies of water that drain into these larger bodies of water.
  • One flaw that could be potentially concerning is the vagueness that is going to be created with the new interpretation. Although in the works, they’re thinking of only including the protection of large bodies of waters and the smaller bodies of water that are adjacent to the larger bodies.
  • As reported by Blan Holman, water regulations expert, “The Obama clean water rule had very clear lines defining which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act, versus which waters are not, while repealing the rule means replacing those lines with case-by-case calls.”

With this legal repeal of the Obama rule, we hope that the Trump Administration has considered all views to this new rule, the environmental, health, and business.