President Donald Trump and the Environmental Protection Agency, headed by Scott Pruitt, are moving to dismantle the “Waters of the U.S.” rule that defined and expanded waters under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency via the Clean Water Act.
Eliminating the Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule would be a symbolic victory for Pruitt, who attempted to sue the Environmental Protection Agency 13 times during his years as Oklahoma Attorney General. Every one of those suits was unsuccessful, according to NPR.
According to the statement from the Environmental Protection Agency, paring back the WOTUS rule is a first step to “provide certainty in the interim, pending a second rulemaking in which the agencies will engage in a substantive re-evaluation of the definition of ‘waters of the United States.'”
In a first step, Trump signed an executive order mandating an EPA review of WOTUS shortly after taking office. Implemented in 2015, the law is seen by Republicans as a power grab by federal environmental officials and burdensome to the agriculture and energy industries.
In the statement from the EPA, Pruitt wrote:
We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses. This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine ‘waters of the U.S.’ and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.