President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule today repealing the Obama Administration’s 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, an overreaching federal regulation which defined what natural features are considered federal waters. The new rule is projected to deliver $1.3 billion in regulatory savings and is in line with President Trump’s Executive Order directing the EPA to review and possibly replace the Obama administration’s definition.

The previous administration’s regulation went beyond the intended purpose of the law and amounted to a power grab designed to place control in the hands of the government over private landowners and developers.

Under the Obama rule, regulation expanded to include ephemeral features in its definition of federal water, meaning land that only temporarily held water could be regulated as federal water if the water eventually flowed into a navigable water. Expanding the scope of the definition gave the federal government greater control in permitting in certain activities such as land development.

Today’s action restores the regulatory text prior to the Obama administration’s 2015 rule and sets the table for the Trump EPA to issue a second, still forthcoming, rule intended to provide states greater flexibility and local control.

“Today’s action is “Step 1” of our response to the president’s executive order. Step 1 repeals the 2015 rule and recodifies the longstanding and familiar regulatory text that existed previously. It also sets the stage for “Step 2” – our new proposed “waters of the United States” definition,” EPA Administrator Wheeler explained in an op-ed released today.

Americans for Tax Reform applauds President Trump and Administrator Wheeler for taking a crucial first step towards revising the Obama Administration’s overreaching definition of federal waters. ATR also encourages the administration to finalize its Step 2 rule and provide landowners greater certainty regarding what is, and what is not, a federal water.