Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh pledged to “vigorously challenge” the Trump administration’s revocation Thursday of an Obama-era clean water rule.
The 2015 regulation known as Waters of the United States defined what waterways are subject to protection under environmental laws. Farmers and real estate developers argued that it created an excessive burden on them, extending the reach of the federal Clean Water Act to include ephemeral streams, ponds and marshes that are disconnected from larger waterways.
But it still could have an impact on the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways across the country.
“Repeatedly, the Trump administration has sought to reverse decades of work to protect our land, air, and water,” Frosh said in a statement. “We plan to vigorously challenge this latest unlawful rollback.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council also said it planned to fight the administration’s action in court.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the action at a news conference Thursday in Michigan. He said undoing the rule “puts an end to an egregious power grab, eliminates an ongoing patchwork of clean water regulations and restores a long-standing and familiar regulatory framework.”
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation said removing wetland protections established under the 2015 rule will make it harder to achieve goals to restore the health of the estuary by 2025.
“Maintaining the health of these waterways and wetlands is crucial to protecting downstream rivers,” said Lisa Feldt, the foundation’s vice president for environmental protection and restoration, in a statement.
Don Parrish, congressional relations director for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said repeal of the rule removes significant red tape that has hindered the nation’s farmers.
“It would be great if farmers didn’t have to hire an army of consultants and lawyers just to be able to farm,” he said.