President Donald Trump today instructed the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review and reconsider a 2015 rule known as the Waters of the United States rule, a move that could ultimately make it easier for agricultural and development interests to drain wetlands and small streams.
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Standing in the Oval office surrounded by farmers, home builders and county commissioners, Trump said his directive was “paving the way for the elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule” that should have only applied to “navigable waters” affecting “interstate commerce.”
The WOTUS rule has long been controversial, as it expands the definition of “waters of the United States” — and by extension the agency’s jurisdiction over private and public lands and their uses — are to include ditches, retention ponds, runoff streams and other small bodies of water. Many states contended it was an overreach of existing statutes under the Clean Water Act. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the rule pending a court case, but that case is now moot as a result of President Trump’s actions.
Manufacturers never liked the rule, which they considered a massive expansion of federal power not backed by law. The National Association of Manufacturers joined several states and other industry associations in filing the lawsuit against it.