Ditching checks and balances on the Clean Water Act rule


The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has approved a funding bill that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw an existing Clean Water Act rule “without regard to any provision of statute or regulation that establishes a requirement for such withdrawal.”  This rule, known as Waters of the United States or WOTUS, was adopted by the Obama Administration EPA to clarify which waters are subject to Clean Water Act jurisdiction.  The House Appropriations Bill is extraordinary, because if approved it would allow the Trump EPA to eliminate this rule without going through the usually required process, including public comment on the EPA’s proposal.

Let’s back up a step.  Like many agencies, EPA has the authority to write rules that carry the force of law, because Congress provided that authority.  Long before EPA was ever created, however, Congress set up some basic requirements that agencies ordinarily must follow in adopting rules.  These requirements include publishing…

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