The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday completed a repeal of an Obama-era water regulation called Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, that limited the use of polluting chemicals near bodies of water, streams, and wetlands. Trump campaigned on rolling back the regulation, saying it impinged on the rights of farmers and rural landowners, and signed an executive order to begin repealing WOTUS when he first took office. Environmentalists are outraged. Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition told the Times, “with many of our cities and towns living with unsafe drinking water, now is not the time to cut back on clean water enforcement.” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler hailed the repeal as a corrective of the “previous administration’s overreach,” and a return to regulation that does not “pose a threat to manufacturing in America.”
Farming groups, a crucial voting bloc for Trump, were in favor of the repeal, saying the water protections have restricted their land use. The clean water rollback is part of a series of actions taken by the Trump administration to weaken environmental regulations surrounding emissions from cars, power plants, and oil drilling rigs. The move builds on the administration’s push to reduce regulations across all government agencies. In signing the repeal on Thursday, Wheeler happily told the crowd that the EPA has repealed the most regulations under Trump’s directive.