The Trump administration on Tuesday began the process of revamping a controversial water regulation pushed through during the Obama administration by reaching out to state governors.
"EPA is restoring states' important role in the regulation of water," said Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt in a statement after he and the Army Corps of Engineers sent a letter to state leaders.
"Like President Trump, I believe that we need to work with our state governments to understand what they think is the best way to protect their waters, and what actions they are already taking to do so. We want to return to a regulatory partnership, rather than regulate by executive fiat," Pruitt said.
The Waters of the U.S. Rule expanded the EPA's jurisdiction over waterways by including small drainage ditches and livestock watering holes as navigable bodies of water subject to EPA enforcement actions.
The action begins the process of changing that definition and rolling back federal overreach, according to the administration. On Tuesday, Pruitt and the Army Corps began sending letters to state agencies asking for their feedback on changing a key definition for waterways under the rule.
"The Army, together with the Corps of Engineers, is committed to working closely with and supporting the EPA on these rulemakings," according to Douglas Lamont, a senior official acting as the assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works. "As we go through the rulemaking process, we will continue to make the implementation of the Clean Water Act Section 404 regulatory program as transparent as possible for the regulated public."
The process to rewrite the water rule follows President Trump's executive order from February directing the agencies to reconsider the regulation in line with the opinion of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2006. Scalia had laid out a framework in the case Rapanos v. United States that said the EPA's Clean Water Act authority should extend only to waterways that are permanent.
The letter by Pruitt and Lamont to the governors said that they are moving in line with Scalia's opinion in redefining the extent of federal authority over waterways.