“When you look at a watershed, especially in the southwest, you have all these tributaries and ephemeral streams connected like capillaries,” said Gillespie. “And the Trump Rule broke us all because we are all downstream of these waters. The Trump Rule was very extreme in that it removed the protection of the waters. “
Agricultural and construction companies are weighing an appeal.
“This ruling unsettles farmers and ranchers across the country and threatens their progress in responsible use of water and natural resources,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We are reviewing the verdict to determine our next course of action.”
Kerry Lynch, a spokeswoman for the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, said her group was disappointed with the ruling and was evaluating “the court’s decision at this point.”
The Trump Rule was a revision of an earlier rule promulgated by the Obama administration in 2015 known as the Waters of the United States. This rule used the authority of the Clean Water Act of 1972 to protect approximately 60 percent of the country’s waterways, including large bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay, Mississippi, and Puget Sound, as well as smaller headwaters, wetlands, and seasonal streams and creeks that are temporary run underground.
Mr Trump repealed the 2019 directive, calling it “one of the most ridiculous regulations of all” and claiming that its repeal made farmers cry in gratitude. A year later, the EPA finalized its replacement policy, known as the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which removed protection for more than half of the country’s wetlands and hundreds of thousands of miles of upland streams by defining what is a “water of the United” States “that deserve federal protection.
With both Trump and Obama rules out of the books, the nation’s waters are now protected by a 1986 rule that environmentalists, farmers and developers alike have lamented as so contradicting and poorly written that they are by the thousands Legal disputes over water pollution that have dragged on for years have resulted.
“It was awfully confusing,” said Mark Ryan, a former EPA attorney. “It was a very complicated and time-consuming process” to determine whether bodies of water are qualified for federal protection against pollution.
That summer, Michael S. Regan, the EPA administrator, announced plans to begin drafting a new water conservation rule that could be completed by next year.