Trump administration to drop Obama-era water protection rule

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The Trump administration plans to revoke an Obama-era regulation that provided federal protection to many U.S. wetlands and streams, according to two Environmental Protection Agency officials with knowledge of the plan.

The rule defined which waterways are subject to federal regulation. The administration plans to replace it with its own version, according to the officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the decision and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James scheduled a news conference for later Thursday.

The action is the latest in a series of Trump administration moves to roll back environmental protections put into place under former President Barack Obama.

Farmers, homebuilders and other business interests have pushed for repeal of the clean water rule, saying it has harmed economic development and violates property rights.

But environmentalists say the move would leave millions of Americans with less safe drinking water and damage wetlands that prevent flooding.

The Natural Resources Defense Council said the Trump administration’s action would be challenged in court.

“The Clean Water Rule represented solid science and smart public policy,” it said in a statement. “Where it has been enforced, it has protected important waterways and wetlands, providing certainty to all stakeholders.”