By Annie Snider and Jenny Hopkinson, POLITICO ProPresident Trump signed an executive order on February 28th, beginning the process of unwinding the Obama administration’s controversial Waters of the U.S. rule, according to an agricultural industry source.
Trump vowed during the campaign to eliminate “some of our most intrusive regulations, like the Waters of the U.S. rule,” as well as the climate rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.
The water rule is aimed at ending the confusion sparked by two Supreme Court decisions about which streams and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. The Obama administration estimated its rule would increase by 3 percent the number of marshes, bogs and creeks covered by the 1972 law, but farmers, homebuilders, oil and gas companies and other industry groups called it a massive land grab.
Trump’s EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, spoke to the American Farm Bureau Federation, which was one of the rule’s most vocal opponents, at 4:00PM on the 28th.
The executive order is unlikely to have an immediate effect, since a court put the rule on hold while legal challenges play out. Moreover, withdrawing the rule would require the agency to go through the formal rulemaking process, with a proposal, notice and comment period, and a final rule. Environmental groups and states that support the rule would almost certainly mount a fierce legal battle to defend it. The Supreme Court has also agreed to hear arguments over a related question.