The Trump administration took steps Tuesday to eliminate an Obama-era environmental initiative that sought to protect the drinking water used by one-third of America, openly admitting it was doing so in order to benefit business.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday that they’re beginning to dismantle the Clean Water Rule, aimed at safeguarding the drinking water delivered to about one in three Americans. The rule, which sought to clarify part of the Clean Water Act, created protections for an additional two million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands.
The rule was extremely unpopular with a wide range of groups, including farmers, real estate developers, and manufacturers, who worried the bill’s expansive jurisdiction over “waters of the U.S.” would result in prosecution for diverting a stream or building on wetlands.
The Trump administration has not announced any plans to protect those waterways in lieu of the rule.
“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” EPA head Scott Pruitt, a climate change skeptic who repeatedly sued the EPA as Oklahoma’s attorney general, said in a statement. “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.”
Pruitt, who supported Trump’s deep cuts to the EPA budget, recently made headlines when, after meeting with the CEO of Dow Chemical, he declined to ban a pesticide scientists say is harmful to both children and farmers. In doing so, he cited the use of “sound science in decision-making rather than predetermined results” — those so-called predetermined results being findings made by the EPA’s own scientists.