Vast amounts of wetlands and thousands of miles of U.S. waterways would no longer be federally protected by the Clean Water Act under a new proposal by the Trump administration.
The proposal, announced Tuesday at the Environmental Protection Agency, would change the EPA’s definition of “waters of the United States,” or WOTUS, limiting the types of waterways that fall under federal protection to major waterways, their tributaries, adjacent wetlands and a few other categories.
The change aims to “provide states and landowners the certainty they need to manage their natural resources and grow local economies,”said the EPA’s acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler.
Wheeler said the simpler approach would allow farmers, for example, to decide which water on their property is subject to federal regulation without paying thousands of dollars for consultants and engineers. He said it will also let them and others avoid expensive and time-consuming permits for an Obama-era regulation he called a “power grab.”
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