EPA to roll back protections in rewrite of Obama-era water rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to unveil a new proposal that would roll back major federal protections for thousands of U.S. waterways and wetlands.

The Trump administration is expected to rewrite a major national water rule imposed by former President Obama in 2015, The Associated Press reported Saturday.

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The outlet obtained a set of White House talking points for the proposed new water rule, which indicate that the Trump administration is stripping federal protections for waterways.

The White House talking points reportedly argue that the "previous administration’s 2015 rule wasn’t about water quality," according to the AP.

“It was about power - power in the hands of the federal government over farmers, developers, and landowners,” the statement indicates.

Trump signed an executive order last year aimed at overhauling the Obama-era Clean Water Rule, which deals with what waterways are protected under the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Hill has reached out to the EPA for comment.

Jan Goldman-Carter, senior director of wetlands and water resources at the National Wildlife Federation, told the AP that about 60 percent of the stream miles in the continental U.S. would no longer be protected.

The proposed rollback would also strip protection for half of the U.S. wetlands, Goldman-Carter said.

She called it an “an unprecedented rollback of Clean Water Act protections.”

Environmental groups say the Obama-era rule helps protect remote and sometimes dry creek and wetlands, which help protect major downstream lakes and rivers from pollutants, runoffs of fertilizer and oil spills, the AP noted. The protections helped shield humans from droughts, floods and hurricanes, according to the outlet.

The 2015 measure also worked toward cleaning up larger bodies of water, like the Chesapeake Bay.

The EPA, now led by acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, has rolled back several environmental protections, largely amounting to victories for energy companies, farmers and builders.