Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a finalized regulation Wednesday blocking the Obama administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule.
“Today, EPA is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation.”
Pruitt's action postpones the regulation until 2020, as the EPA goes about a process of writing its own version.
The Obama administration rule, published in June 2015, intended to clarify which waters and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act and are subject to federal regulation by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.
The definition of a waterway under the rule includes everything from a drainage ditch to streams and rivers. That means many more areas would fall under EPA's enforcement jurisdiction and control, from farmers to individual homeowners to oil companies, critics of the rule say.
President Trump issued an executive order in February to re-evaluate the rule, starting the lengthy regulatory process of blocking and re-writing it.
The EPA plans to issue a proposed new regulation in April or May. Pruitt aims to finalize the revised rule by the end of the year.