Perdue, Isakson praise Trump rollback of Obama-era water regulat - CBS46 News

Perdue, Isakson praise Trump rollback of Obama-era water regulations

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The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers proposed a rule to rescind the Clean Water Rule by changing the definition of "waters of the United States" (WOTUS), which is expected to significantly reduce the agency's geographic jurisdiction. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers proposed a rule to rescind the Clean Water Rule by changing the definition of "waters of the United States" (WOTUS), which is expected to significantly reduce the agency's geographic jurisdiction.
Washington (CBS46) -

Georgia U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue praised the Trump administration's announcement Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is rolling back Obama-era policies on clean water protections.

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers proposed a rule to rescind the Clean Water Rule by changing the definition of "waters of the United States" (WOTUS).

“This is a huge victory for our farmers, businesses, ranchers, and landowners,” said Senator Perdue. “This Obama-era rule was a blatant overreach from the federal government. Immediately after the rule was announced, Georgians pleaded with the government to not overregulate their land."

In February, President Trump signed an executive order to require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency to review and reconsider the “Waters of the United States” rule.

"Recodifying" the current definition of "waters of the United States," which was redefined to its current wording due to a ruling in 2015--would either expand or contract the federal government's reach on water regulations.

Tuesday’s action would provide certainty in the interim when finalized, pending a second rulemaking in which the agencies would engage in a substantive re-evaluation of the definition.

What's the Environmental Protection Agency?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was commenced during the 1970s Nixon administration after decades of rising concern over human impact on the environment. Its 15,000 employees are made up of engineers, biologists, chemists, geologists and technologists whose mission is to "protect human health and the environment." (Here's a link to an exhaustive list of issues the agency addresses.)

According to their website, the EPA's purpose is to ensure that:

  • all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work;
  • national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information;
  • federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively;
  • environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy;
  • all parts of society -- communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments -- have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks;
  • environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and
  • the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.

When Congress writes an environmental law, we [the EPA] implement it by writing regulations. Often, we set national standards that states and tribes enforce through their own regulations. If they fail to meet the national standards, we can help them. We also enforce our regulations, and help companies understand the requirements.

The standards and regulatory reach of the Environmental Protection Agency has historically been a partisan issue.

The EPA, which is now led by President Trump's nominee, Scott Pruitt, has been criticized for creating pollution prevention and energy conservation standards that put more pressure and constraints on corporations and small businesses.

President Trump's proposed 31 percent budget cut to the agency and his placement of Pruitt as administrator--who's a self-proclaimed "advocate against the EPA's activist agenda"--are intended to reduce the agency's sovereignty over U.S. environmental regulation.

"We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation's farmers and businesses," said Administrator Pruitt, who released a press statement.

"This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine 'waters of the U.S.' and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public."

Georgia and "Waters of the United States"

Georgia is one of several states that took steps to challenge the 2015 ruling in federal court. (The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of Georgia and 17 states in 2015, granting a nationwide stay of the regulation.)

In addition, Georgia also challenged the same regulation in a case brought in the U.S. District for the Southern District of Georgia that has been stayed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. (Senators Isakson and Perdue also co-sponsored the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, S.1140, in 2015.)

Senators Isakson and Perdue previously co-sponsored a resolution that would have overturned the rule, but it was vetoed by President Obama.

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