President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Tuesday mandating a review of an Obama-era rule aimed at protecting small streams and wetlands from development and pollution.
The order will instruct the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to review a rule that redefined “waters of the United States” protected under the Clean Water Act to include smaller creeks and wetlands, according to a senior White House official.
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The official briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, despite the president’s recent complaints about unnamed sources.
Trump had railed against the water rule during his campaign, slamming it as an example of federal overreach. Farmers and landowners have criticized the rule, saying there are already too many government regulations that affect their businesses, and Republicans have been working to thwart it since its inception.
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But Democrats have argued that it safeguards drinking water for millions of Americans and clarifies confusion about which streams, tributaries and wetlands should be protected in the wake of decades-long uncertainty that persisted despite two Supreme Court rulings.
The order Trump is set to sign will also instruct the agencies to ask the attorney general to suspend ongoing court action while the review is underway. Implementation of the rule has been held up in court due to pending legal challenges.
The president has promised to dramatically scale back regulations that he says are holding back businesses, and he has signed several orders aimed at that goal.
The League of Conservation Voters issued a pre-emptive statement slamming the expected move.
“This executive order is about one thing: protecting polluters at the expense of our communities and their access to clean drinking water,” said Madeleine Foote, the group’s legislative representative.