WASHINGTON, D.C.— The White House has published a new stance on energy that targets water protections aimed at headwaters, wetlands and streams.
The Waters of the U.S. Rule, more commonly known as the Clean Waters Rule, was introduced by the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2015 to ensure that the 1972 Clean Water Act is more accurately understood. The result of what the EPA calls “hundreds of meetings,” and over 1,200 scientific studies, the Clean Water Rule joined the Climate Action Plan atop the White House’s chopping block via the new American First Energy Plan, which was published on the official White House website minutes after President Donald Trump’s January, 20th inauguration.
For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. Rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.
According to the EPA, the Clean Water Rule:
- clearly defines and protects tributaries that impact the health of downstream waters.
- provides certainty in how far safeguards extend to nearby waters.
- protects the nation’s regional water treasures.
- focuses on streams, not ditches.
- maintains the status of waters within Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems.
- reduces the use of case-specific analysis of water.
The EPA lists Texas coastal prairie wetlands, California vernal pools, the Carolina and Demarva bays, pocosin and prairie potholes as examples of environments protected under the rule.
The EPA lists the American Fisheries Society, American Sportfishing Association, B.A.S.S, Ducks Unlimited, Federation of Fly Fishers, Izaak Walton League of America, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) and Trout Unlimited as national agencies who requested the rule. They join a list which also includes support from over 200 other agencies spanning the East Coast, Southeast, Great Lakes, Midwest, Southwest and West Coast.
The rule was also requested by the American Iron & Steel Institute, Edison Electric Institute and the Agricultural Retailers Association.
President Trump stated during his campaign that the America First Energy Plan will focus on tapping an estimated $50 trillion worth of untapped oil on federal lands, liberating America from any dependence on OPEC and getting “the bureaucracy out of the way of innovation.”
The White House did not respond to an FTR request for comment. However, President Trump did address the America First Energy plan at a 2016 campaign rally in North Dakota:
“The government should not pick winners and losers,” Trump stated. “Instead, it should remove obstacles to exploration. Any market has ups and downs, but lifting these draconian barriers will ensure that we are no longer at the mercy of a global market.”
“Sportsmen support clean water because they understand the critical role it plays in healthy fish and wildlife habitat and our access to great places to hunt and fish,” said TRCP President and CEO Whit Fosburgh. “Continued confusion over which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act not only hurts America’s sportsmen and women—and undermines our ability to contribute to the $646-billion outdoor recreation economy—but also prevents farmers, ranchers, and other industries from doing business with transparency and certainty.”
UPDATE: After this article posted, the Associated Press released emails received by EPA staffers from the Trump administration ordering a contract freeze and media blackout on Inauguration Day. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he had no knowledge of the blackout and that aides were “looking into it.”
According to those emails, the Environmental Protection Agency is, as of this posting, barred from publicizing any press releases, blog posts, or social media posts. A review of EPA social accounts, which typically post multiple times per day, shows no new activity since Friday. The freeze also reportedly includes suspension of all new business activities at the department. It coincides with the signing of executive orders by the President to advance both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
In March of 2015 EPA director Gina McCarthy stated that the Keystone XL pipeline would contribute to global warming. In April of 2016 the EPA and U.S. Department of the Interior urged further environmental impact studies by the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline. On January 18, 2017 the Army Corps released a public notice of an impending environmental impact study on the Dakota Access, LLC’s request to grant an easement across Lake Oahe.