President Trump signed an order Tuesday directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to formally reconsider former President Barack Obama’s Clean Water Rule.
The executive order is an opening shot by Trump against the EPA, which was a frequent target of criticism from Republicans for alleged overreach under Obama’s tenure.
It’s the first step toward repealing the 2015 water rule, which asserted federal power over small waterways like wetlands and streams for the purposes of controlling pollution under the Clean Water Act. Trump promised on the campaign trail to repeal the regulation.
“It’s a horrible, horrible rule. Has sort of a nice name, but everything else is bad,” Trump said at a White House signing ceremony, surrounded by Vice President Pence, first lady Melania Trump and top opponents of the regulation, including newly installed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio.).
Farmers, homebuilders and county commissioners were also present.
“The Clean Water Act says that the EPA can regulate navigable waters, meaning waters that truly affect interstate commerce. But a few years ago, the EPA decided that navigable waters can mean nearly every puddle or every ditch on a farmer’s land, or any place else that they decide,” Trump said before signing the order.
“It was a massive power grab. The EPA’s regulators are putting people out of jobs by the hundreds of thousands.”