Clean Water Act

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel and sitting in for Neva Hill is Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs Director of External Relations Dave Bond about renewal of calls to provide a Cost of Living Adjustment for state retirees, Governor Stitt goes before the U.S. Senate to support a federal proposal to stop states from using the Clean Water Act to block energy projects and time is running out in the stalemate between the governor and tribal leaders over gaming compacts.

The Trump administration is changing the definition of what qualifies as "waters of the United States," tossing out an Obama-era regulation that had enhanced protections for wetlands and smaller waterways.

Thursday's rollback is the first step in a process that will allow the Trump administration to create its own definition of which waters deserve federal protection. A new rule is expected to be finalized this winter.

Updated 5:35 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is moving to roll back an environmental rule intended to define which small bodies of water are subject to federal authority under the Clean Water Act.

Fivehanks / Flickr

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency attempt to update the Clean Water Rule — also known as the waters of the U.S. rule — hit a snag today, with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to temporarily block its implementation.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States Rule — also known as the Clean Water Rule — attempts to clarify which bodies of water qualify for federal protection — which ones are streams, which ones are tributaries, whether pollution dumped into one stream will trickle into another — that sort of thing.

The Obama administration announced new clean water rules Wednesday that it says will protect sources of drinking water for 117 million Americans, rules welcomed by environmental groups, but bitterly opposed by congressional Republicans and farm state democrats.

The rules clarify which waterways fall under the Clean Water Act.

President Obama, in a statement released by the White House, said that in recent years:

courtesy msnbc.com

A rare joint Congressional hearing in Washington Wednesday took up the issue of ‘Waters of the United States,’ the EPA’s attempt to more clearly define which bodies of water qualify for federal protection under the Clean Water Act.

As StateImpact’s Logan Layden reports, Republicans at the hearing — including Oklahoma’s senior senator and state attorney general — are convinced the move is a vast overreach of the EPA’s power that will place everything from ditches to farm ponds under government control.

Administrator Gina McCarthy explained the EPA’s action as a benign clarification of existing rules meant to reduce confusion for farmers and ranchers, not further burden them. Senator Jim Inhofe wasn’t buying it.