Lawmakers react to Trump administration's move to withdraw clean-water rule

Updated: Jun. 27, 2017 at 4:02 PM CDT
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(KFVS) - The Trump administration moved Tuesday to roll back an Obama administration policy that protected more than half the nation's streams from pollution but drew attacks from farmers, fossil fuel companies and property-rights groups as federal overreach.

According to a release from the Environmental Protection Agency, together with the Department of Army, and Army Corps of Engineers, the agencies are "proposing a rule to rescind the Clean Water Rule and re-codify the regulatory text that existed prior to 2015 defining 'waters of the United States' or WOTUS."

The 2015 regulation sought to settle a debate over which waterways are covered under the Clean Water Act, which has dragged on for years and remained murky despite two Supreme Court rulings. President Donald Trump issued an executive order in February instructing the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rescind or revise the Obama rule, which environmentalists say is essential to protecting water for human consumption and wildlife.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens put a video on Facebook celebrating the decision.

Environmental groups denounced the move, saying it would remove drinking water safeguards for one in three Americans while jeopardizing thousands of streams that flow into larger rivers and lakes, plus wetlands that filter pollutants and soak up floodwaters.

Missouri Attorney General also praised the decision:

"We fought this rule vigorously in court, and now it is gone. I applaud the EPA for finally putting this unconstitutional, Obama-era regulation to rest. It is time we started protecting the farmers and ranchers who feed our families -- and the world. They will always have the unwavering support of my office. After eight years of unprecedented encroachment by Washington onto the jurisdictions of the states and localities, and onto the livelihood and liberty of individual Missourians, it is time for us to keep pushing back."

U.S. Representative Mike Bost (R-IL) called the decision a win for southern Illinois.

"Turning back WOTUS is a clear win for Southern Illinois' hardworking farmers, ranchers, construction workers, and manufacturers. The Obama Administration's WOTUS rule was a federal power grab of epic proportions, expanding EPA control to puddles, ditches and farmland ponds across America.  That's why I have fought so hard to eliminate this misguided rule.  We must be good stewards of the environment, but we can do so without imposing crushing D.C. regulations that will put Southern Illinois' economy at risk and impact millions of rural Americans."

Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst issued this statement:

"We are pleased the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has formally proposed to repeal the previous administration's Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.  The controversial rule was a classic example of an overreach of government regulations that would have expanded regulations to essentially every Missouri body of water and stream, no matter how small.  We also appreciate Governor Greitens' comments to EPA asserting that the WOTUS rule was too broad an interpretation of law and that it should be redefined.  We look forward to working with other interested parties to develop a rule which is consistent with U.S. Supreme Court rulings but grounded in common sense."

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Copyright 2017 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.