Donald Trump repeals Obama-era water protections to boost industry


California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has led dozens of lawsuits against Trump administration policy rollbacks, said on Thursday his state is "prepared to defend" the Obama clean water rule because its recission would remove many California waters from federal protection.

The 2015 rule put many lakes, streams, wetlands, storm-water controls and ditches - about 60 percent of the nation's bodies of water - that feed larger waterways under federal control to protect drinking water. He called the 2015 rule little more than a federal land grab that hurt farmers and other rural land owners. It's been held up in court in some states since its induction four years ago.

In a memo released by the EPA, Andrew Wheeler, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said there has been enough scientific advancements to predict potential hazards without the use of traditional methods that rely on animal testing.

"As the scope expands, so too has Washington's power over private property and the states' traditional authority to regulate their land and water resources", he said.

"That's what the federal government is here to do", Southerland said, "they make sure that there is a level playing field between states for water and air quality".

The environmental group Food and Water Action doesn't share that confidence, blasting the repeal as a gift to "our nation's worst polluters".

Indiana Senator Mike Braun and Representative Larry Bucshon, both Republicans, issued statements applauding the repeal.

"The withdrawal rule has been very controversial, and is now nearly three years in the making", said Mark Ryan, a leading expert on the Clean Water Act who helped write the rule near the end of his 24-year career as a senior litigator for the EPA.

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The Trump administration says revoking an Obama-era rule on waters and wetlands would provide "much-needed regulatory certainty" for farmers, homebuilders and landowners.

"This rule has serious implications for our local farmers, it allows bureaucrats to determine if small divots or puddles were considered "navigable waters".

"After years spent fighting the 2015 WOTUS Rule in the halls of Congress, in the Courts, and at the EPA, cattle producers will sleep a little easier tonight knowing that the nightmare is over", she said.

Wheeler told Bloomberg that while the administration remains committed to rolling back the standards implemented under President Obama, "it's safe to say our final will not look exactly like the way we proposed it".

The regulation drew quick legal challenges.

The National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons said the 2015 rule, which sought to clarify which wetlands and waterways were protected under the Clean Water Act, was "confusing and counterproductive".

"In an unprecedented power grab, this rule handed federal bureaucrats authority to regulate nearly any water imaginable-creating unnecessary regulatory obstacles for everyone from farmers plowing their land to local governments building ditches for public safety to families building their homes", Bakst argued.