Trump Signs Executive Order Directing EPA to Reconsider Obama Water Rule

February 28, 2017

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to review and reconsider a rule the Obama administration put in place to expand federal authority over the nation's waterways.

That authority could be be diminished through Trump's new order, which is the first step toward repealing the Clean Water Rule, put in place by former President Obama in 2015.

The president said on Tuesday the executive order would "pave the way for the elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule."

"It's a horrible, horrible rule. Has sort of a nice name, but everything else is bad," Trump added during the signing ceremony at the White House.

The 2015 water rule gave the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers greater oversight over small waterways like streams to better control pollution. Now with Trump's order they will review the water rule and begin the process of rolling it back.

"The Clean Water Act says that the EPA can regulate 'navigable waters'–meaning waters that truly affect interstate commerce. But a few years ago, the EPA decided that 'navigable waters' can mean nearly every puddle or every ditch on a farmer's land, or anyplace else that they decide," Trump said before signing the order.

"It was a massive power grab. The EPA's regulators were putting people out of jobs by the hundreds of thousands, and regulations and permits started treating our wonderful small farmers and small businesses as if they were a major industrial polluter," the president continued. "They treated them horribly."

Trump promised during his campaign to repeal the regulation.

Republican lawmakers slammed the Clean Water Rule in 2015, arguing it overstepped the EPA's statuary authority and would be harmful for the economy.

Then-Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio) said the rule would bring "regulatory and economic hell," according to Politico.

"The administration's decree to unilaterally expand federal authority is a raw and tyrannical power grab that will crush jobs," Boehner said.

But environmental groups and congressional Democrats welcomed the regulation.  

"Small streams and wetlands provide drinking water to roughly one in three Americans and they must be protected from pollution at the source," Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) said.

Trump's move Tuesday came in the wake of a Jan. 30 executive order designed to roll back federal regulations. That order "intends to slash two regulations for every new regulation that is implemented and sets a budget of $0 for new regulations for the coming year," the Washington Free Beacon reported.