EPA to seek comments on Obama water rule repeal

EPA to seek comments on Obama water rule repeal
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is allowing the public to weigh in on its proposal to repeal the Obama administration’s controversial water pollution rule.

The EPA’s proposal to undo the Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States rule, is due to be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, according to the government office that publishes it.

That makes the proposal official and opens a 30-day period for comments.

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The EPA, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, unveiled the proposal last month.

It would reverse the 2015 rule, which extended federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act to small bodies of water like headwaters, wetlands and some ponds.

“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation's farmers and businesses,” EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Regulation: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court battle | Watchdog to investigate EPA chief's meeting with industry group | Ex-Volkswagen exec gets 7 years for emissions cheating Overnight Energy: Watchdog probes Pruitt speech to mining group | EPA chief promises to let climate scientists present their work | Volkswagen manager gets 7 years for emissions cheating Scott Pruitt's year of environmental destruction MORE said in a statement at the time.

The 2015 rule never took effect because it was put on hold by a federal court.

Environmentalists and Obama supporters charged that the rollback would threaten drinking water for 117 million people.

After the EPA gathers and analyzes the comments, it can make any necessary changes and then make the rollback final. States, environmentalists and others at that point could sue to stop the repeal.

Government spending bills being considered in the House would exempt the EPA and Army Corps from having to go through the usual regulatory process under the Administrative Procedure Act to repeal the water rule.

That would exempt the agencies from gathering public comments and from responding to the comments.

The EPA is separately working on a regulation to replace the water rule with an alternative definition of federal jurisdiction that is less expansive.