EPA trying to reverse
 Obama-era water law; 
agency to rewrite rules

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving to recodify its Waters of the United States rule as it was before 2015 — delighting Republicans and provoking environmental organizations.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed the proposed rule on Tuesday. The agency now is seeking public comment on the change.

Pruitt’s action is “welcome news,” said U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., who said the Obama-era rule would have usurped long-held state water law and threatened access to private water rights.

“State law and priority-based systems have ensured clean, safe, and reliable water supplies for over a century in Colorado and the West,” Tipton said in a statement in which he noted that water-rights holders will have “much needed certainty while the EPA rewrites the definition of ‘Waters of the United States.’ “

Any change to the rule would put Colorado’s “streams, wetlands and waterways at greater risk of pollution and development,” said Kristin Green of Conservation Colorado.

Trout Unlimited also weighed in, saying that the Trump administration was beginning to unravel the protections of the Clean Water Act for small headwater streams, placing the “health of our streams and rivers at significant and unacceptable risk.”

Club 20, the Western Slope lobbying and promotional organization, said the Obama rule was overreaching, including “every drop of water that falls within the United States. The regulation would have strangled our economies, our communities, our agriculture producers, and our homeowners,” Executive Director Christian Reece said.


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