The order — which is currently in draft form and subject to change before Tuesday afternoon, when Trump is expected to sign it — addresses the “Waters of the United States” rule, which applies to 60% of the bodies of water in the US.
The regulation was created under the Clean Water Act in the early 1970s and essentially gives the federal government authority over major bodies of water, rivers, streams and wetlands, allowing the federal government to police these waterways to ensure they are pollution free.
Trump’s executive order requires the EPA and other applicable departments to review the regulation and ensure it promotes economic growth and minimizes uncertainty when it comes to regulation. The order then requires agencies to rescind or revise aspects of the regulation that are incompatible with the new policy guidance.
By reviewing the regulation, the administration can begin to pick it apart and weaken it.
Critics, including some in the farming community, have complained that the rule restricted how they could use their land and had a negative economic impact on their business.
The CNN report above blandly describes the “Waters of the United States” rule as a four-decade-old holdover, but that simply isn’t true. In its current form it dates back only to 2015, greatly expanded on EPA’s own “authority,” and was controversial then:
On its face, the Waters of the United States rule is largely a technical document, defining which rivers, streams, lakes and marshes fall under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. But opponents condemn it as a massive power grab by Washington, saying it will give bureaucrats carte blanche to swoop in and penalize landowners every time a cow walks through a ditch. And it comes amid years of complaints from Republicans about President Barack Obama’s regulatory agenda, which has encompassed everything from power plants and health insurers to Internet providers and for-profit colleges.
Ideologues at EPA seem to believe that the entire U.S. economy should fall under their purview, and that everything they have not made mandatory ought to be forbidden.