WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army proposed Tuesday changes to the Waters of the United States rule the EPA says will help sustain economic growth and protect the nation’s water systems.
The proposed rule provides a clearer definition regarding where the federal Clean Water Act is applicable and the differences between waterways protected by federal and state governments.
According to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, landowners will be able to better understand whether a federal permit is required for a project because of the rule change.
“Our proposal would replace the Obama EPA’s 2015 definition with one that respects the limits of the Clean Water Act and provides states and landowners the certainty they need to manage their natural resources and grow local economies,” he said.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey joined Wheeler for the announcement; Morrisey was active in blocking the enforcement of the rule in October 2015.
“Everyone wants to ensure that you’re protecting the environment, that you’re providing for clean water,” he told MetroNews.
“What people have to realize is the state preserves the right to regulate under this rule, and that’s really critical. States are really supposed to take the lead on intrastate waterways, and what the Obama administration tried to do was stretch that out and have the federal government micromanage what the states do.”
President Donald Trump ordered a review of the Waters of the United States rule in February 2017.