Trump Administration Begins Regulatory Rollback in EPA
President Trump signed an executive order yesterday that instructs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rescind or revise a 2015 rule known as the “Waters of the United States” rule, which will in essence charge the new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to begin the long process of rewriting the rule. The rule has come under criticism from many in the agricultural community because of its overreach to require federal permitting for development and farming activities around smaller bodies of water historically not considered under federal jurisdiction. A rewrite of the regulation, which would involve a lengthy legal process, will likely strip much of this authority away from EPA and delegate it back to the states.
The President is also expected to sign a similar order in the near term to direct EPA to withdraw and rewrite the Clean Power Plan (CPP). There is debate as to whether the administration will be required to replace and not simply repeal the rule, and it is likely that environmentalist groups will sue the administration claiming the EPA must act under its statutory obligations under the Clean Air Act. Adding further uncertainty, the D.C. Circuit has yet to issue its en banc opinion on last fall’s lawsuit challenging the EPA’s authority on the CPP, although many experts expect them to give deference to the EPA and not overturn the rule. See CNBC, The White House, and The Washington Post