On Thursday, the Trump administration authorized a promised regulation that rolls-back environmental protections for much of the nation’s wetlands and millions of miles of rivers and streams. The new legislation, titled the Waters of the United States rule, replaces a directive instituted by the Obama administration that greatly expanded the number of waterways protected by EPA regulations. President Trump’s administration claims this new rule will make it simpler for farmers and developers to complete projects near these waterways, without worrying about accidentally encroaching on Federally protected lands.
Not only have Left-wing environmental groups criticized the decision, but outside advisors to the EPA have also said that the new rule is “in conflict with established science… and the objectives of the Clean Water Act.” Critics also believe these changes pose a danger to wildlife and will make it more difficult to provide clean water for the U.S. Opponents of the new rule are already planning to challenge the decision in State and Federal courts, which may lead to the changes being placed on hold as the cases move through the legal system.
Supporters of the legislation, including many operators of small farms and land developers, are praising the administration’s decision. Many conservative states believed the Clean Water Act was a hindrance to their agricultural industries specifically and to general development more broadly. The Trump administration also noted that federal regulations are not the only ones covering these waterways. States can still enforce their own regulations to protect wetlands and streams. In essence, the administration believes this rule adheres to the conservative principle of leaving regulations up to the individual states instead of the federal government.
By: Daniel Bendele