EPA plans 10 hearings on water rule rewrite

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking its first steps to rewrite the Obama-era Waters of the United States regulation under President Donald Trump. Photo by LubosHouska/PixaBay

Aug. 26 (UPI) — The Environmental Protection Agency announced today it is taking its first steps to rewrite the Waters of the United States regulation under the Trump Administration.

The EPA announced today, in a notice to be published Monday in the Federal Register, that 10 teleconference meetings will be held to gather information on its plans to change the rule, which is intended to reduce water pollution under the Clean Water Act.

The first of the 10 meetings is scheduled for September 19 at 1:00 p.m., with the next nine held each Tuesday after.

In 2015, the Obama administration issued a new rule reinterpreting the Clean Water Act to extend federal protections to smaller rivers and streams to protect against water pollution. Obama’s rule was blocked at the time by a federal appeals court.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in March calling for a review of the Waters of the United States Rule.

“A few years ago, the EPA decided that ‘navigable waters’ can mean nearly every puddle or every ditch on a farmer’s land, or anyplace else that they decide — right? It was a massive power grab,” Trump said during the signing ceremony for the executive order.

The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers then in July proposed a repeal of former President Barack Obama‘s version of the regulations meant to define the limits of the federal government’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

The executive order issued by Trump calls for a review of the rule and instructs the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to determine if federal jurisdiction over navigable waters under the Clean Water Act should include bodies of water to which Obama sought to extend protection.

Additionally, Trump’s executive order requested the Department of Justice put its appeal of the court’s block on hold while the review is carried out.

Environmentalists who support the Obama Administration version of the rule have accused the Trump Administration of endangering water supplies.

“Both EPA and the Corps are aware that the scope of [Clean Water Act] jurisdiction is of intense interest to a broad array of stakeholders and therefore want to provide time for broad pre-proposal input,” the EPA wrote in the Federal Register notice.


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