An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Orange County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Long slog likely if Trump EPA attempts WOTUS do-over

President Trump's pick to lead U.S. EPA, Scott Pruitt, is an avowed foe of the agency's Clean Water Rule.

As Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt sued the Obama administration over what he deemed an unlawful expansion of federal regulatory power over isolated streams and wetlands. And if he's confirmed as EPA chief, he has said he will replace the rule.

But legal experts say killing that rule is one thing, replacing it another.

The regulation — which is also known by an acronym, WOTUS, for "Waters of the United States" — was written by the Obama EPA and Army Corps of Engineers in an effort to help regulators and landowners end a murky, decadeslong legal battle over the reach of the Clean Water Act.

At issue: unclear case law and a vaguely written statute.

Bernadette Rappold, former director of the EPA Office of Civil Enforcement's Special Litigation and Projects Division, said all the legal baggage complicates the effort to write a clear, scientifically defensible rule for protecting areas that are valuable as filters for water pollution, buffers for floodwaters and habitat for wildlife.