The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army on Wednesday announced their intent to revise the definition of U.S. waterways that can be regulated, reversing the rollback of a key federal water rule by the Trump administration that farmers, ranchers and manufacturers had applauded.
The agencies reviewed ex-President Donald Trump’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule and determined that it “significantly” reduced clean water protections – a major concern as arid states in the west face severe drought conditions.
Department of Justice will now a motion requesting remand of the rule, which has been facing court challenges.
“After reviewing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule as directed by President (Joe) Biden, the EPA and Department of the Army have determined that this rule is leading to significant environmental degradation,” said EPA Administrator Regan.
He said EPA and the Army will work to create a “durable definition” of which “waters of the United States’ can be regulated based on Supreme Court precedent and other experiences.
In their review of the Trump rule, the agencies found that in New Mexico and Arizona, nearly every one of over 1,500 streams assessed were found to be outside of jurisdiction and not able to be regulated.
Farmers, ranchers and big industrial companies fought hard against the Obama-era water regulation that Trump rolled back because they said the rules were overly restrictive and too broadly defined what should be considered a navigable waterway.
Trump’s rule excluded certain types of waterways like seasonal streams and wetlands from regulation, drawing 14 states, including New York and California, to sue the Trump EPA because they said it would end federal protection for half of the nation’s wetlands and 15% of streams across the country.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Marguerita Choy)