(COMMON DREAMS) Julia Conley, June 17, 2018 — As Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt faces mounting ethics controversies, his agency on Friday advanced a proposal to roll back a rule designed to limit pollution in the drinking water of about 117 million Americans.
A new interpretation of the Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS), was sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, after which the proposal can be released to the public for comment.
As President Barack Obama’s EPA wrote the rule in 2015, it extended pollution safeguards to two million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetland. Previously, only larger public water bodies like the Chesapeake Bay and the Puget Sound had been protected from pollution from fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals used by farmers and developers.
As requested by President Donald Trump last year, the new rule is expected to stipulate that only large public bodies of water and the rivers and streams that flow into them should be protected—a rollback that critics say threatens public health and continues the administration’s deregulation agenda.
In addition, this narrow interpretation of the Clean Water Rule could directly benefit the president and his business, noted Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW).