@EPA finalizes repeal of #WOTUS rule

A wetland area along Homestake Creek. Photo credit: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

Another Obama administration environmental rule is now history, as the Environmental Protection Agency on Thurday finalized its repeal of a 2015 rule expanding waterway and wetlands protections.

The 2015 “Waters of the United States” rule had support from environmentalists but faced criticism from agricultural and other interests…

Its action restores regulations that were in place prior to the 2015 rule, ending inconsistent regulations in different states as a result of various court actions on that rule. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a news release that the action Thursday “fulfills a key promise of President Trump” and sets the stage for a second EPA action, a new waters of the U.S definition “that will provide greater regulatory certainty for farmers, landowners, home builders, and developers nationwide.”

[…]

…the conservation group Western Resource Advocates said the EPA actions will significantly weaken protections for thousands of miles of waterways and millions of acres of wetlands across the West. It said the EPA’s efforts aim to remove protections for rivers and streams that flow intermittently after rain or snow, and its proposed new definition threatens Western water supplies.

It says the EPA estimates that in Colorado and Utah alone, more than 5 million people receive drinking water from public systems relying at least in part on intermittent, ephemeral or headwater streams.

“This assault on the Clean Water Act makes it more important than ever for local lawmakers and water leaders to enact state-level policies that protect our rivers and our communities,” Robert Harris, a senior staff attorney for the group, said in a statement.

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