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Trump Finally Comes for the 'Waters of the United States' Rule

The Trump administration is finally delivering on a promise to rescind the Waters of the United States act enacted during the Obama administration to expand the reach of the federal Clean Water Act.
January 23, 2020, 11am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks at the National Press Club in JUne 2019.
Albert H. Teich

"The Environmental Protection Agency is dramatically reducing federal pollution protections for rivers, streams and wetlands," reports Scott Neuman.

The Obama-era rule was finalized in 2015 after years of controversy, but needed until 2018 to clear a federal judge. "The Obama-era executive action, which broadened the definition of 'waters of the United States,' or WOTUS, applied to about 60% of U.S. waterways," explains Neuman. "It aimed to bring clarity to decades of political and legal debate over which waters should qualify."

As noted by Neuman, the rule is opposed by farmers, builders, mining companies. In 2015, Planetizen noted the opposition of the golf and agriculture industries to WOTUS.  According to Neuman, the Environmental Protection Agency's own scientist support the rule—for reasons exemplified by the case of Arizona, as detailed in an article

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the rule change today at the National Association of Home Builders International Builders' Show in Las Vegas. The announcements comes a few months after Wheeler announced a repeal of another Obama-era clean water rule that limited the amount of pollutants that can be released into streams.

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Published on Thursday, January 23, 2020 in NPR
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