WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Trump administration has made good on its promise to throw out an Obama-era regulation that protected many U.S. wetlands and streams from pollution.
The 2015 Waters of the United States rule was opposed by developers, farmers, and manufacturers, who said it hurt economic development and infringed on property rights.
Environmental groups are attacking the administration for what they call the latest in a series of efforts to eliminate environmental protections.
Some lawmakers are calling on the President to rethink the move, which they say further threatens public water supplies.
“The president is moving in the wrong direction,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-MI.
He is slamming the Trump administration over its decision to roll back the protections.
“The president seems willing to stand on the side of his corporate buddies and not on the side of people who rightfully deserve protection,” he said.
Kildee’s district includes Flint, Michigan, a city where lead-contaminated drinking water poisoned thousands. He says the rule change strips pollution protections from streams and wetlands, which he claims will put millions more Americans’ drinking water at risk.
However, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler called the Obama administration’s rule an overreach.
“When President Trump took office, he immediately set in motion a process to remove and replace regulatory burdens that were stifling American innovation and economic development,” Wheeler said.
EPA officials say they will write new rules that are more business-friendly.
Ross Eisenberg of the National Association of Manufacturers says he hopes the new rules are simpler.
“Now, we’re in a situation for the EPA to come up with a definition that works for us,” he said.
However, environmentalists fear the rules will lead to more water pollution.
Chad Lord of the National Parks Conservation Association says all water is connected and the government should be doing more to keep pollution out.
“We will not sit idly by to protect our water,” he said. “Over half of our wetlands that still exist could be removed from protections.”
The new rules will be released and will be open to public comment in the coming weeks. It’s expected the new regulations will be challenged in court.