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Executive Order
Issued February 28, 2017

Update: January 31, 2018

Almost a year after the announcement of its review, the Trump administration has formally suspended the “Waters of the United States” Rule. This suspension paves the way for this Administration’s version of the pollution regulating rules. The original Obama rule was up for implementation, and the documents filed on January 31 suspend the rule for 2 years while EPA Director Scott Pruitt and President Trump craft a new rule with looser pollution restrictions. Lauded as a means of economic development, Pruitt’s draft is anticipated sometime in the Spring. The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) plans to contest this suspension in court.

This update was compiled by Megan Toney. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this update please contact megan@usresistnews.org.


The Trump administration released an Executive Order (EO) directing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to review the Obama Administration’s “Clean Water Rule” and “publish for notice and comment a proposed rule rescinding or revising the rule.” The Clean Water Rule: Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ helped define the extent of governmental protection of national waters under the Clean Water Act establishing the government’s authority to regulate pollution of a large swath of smaller streams, wetlands, and other water sources. Opponents of the rule argue that it harms economic growth and places undue burdens on farmers and other business interests. LEARN MORE


While the EO has no legal significance of its own, it signals the president’s desire to dismantle the Clean Water Rule, and Scott Pruitt is expected to vigorously begin the process of rolling back regulations put in place by the Obama administration. Environmental groups and fishing organizations support the rule, which offers “clearer protection to upstream bodies of water that contribute to drinking supplies for one-third of the population.” They argue that you can’t protect major rivers and lakes from pollution unless you cover their sources upstream; the gray area that exists in absence of the rule would make it difficult to bring a case against companies dumping in smaller streams and waterways. Additionally, while the farming industry has argued that new regulations harm business interests, the EPA explicitly avoided overburdening farmers, and a systematic legal analysis revealed that the agencies jurisdiction with regards to agriculture is, if anything, more limited than under the previous framework. 

Engagement Resources

  • Natural Resources Defense Council – a non-profit international environmental advocacy group committed to fighting Trump’s “environmental assault” and providing individuals with avenues for taking action.
  • Sierra Club – the nation’s largest environmental preservation organization; recent focuses include green energy, mitigating global warming, and opposing coal.
  • Clean Water Action ­– an environmental advocacy group focused on canvassing and gaining support for political issues and candidates.
  • Environment America – a federation of liberal state-based environmental advocacy organizations throughout the US that researches and advocates for environmental policies.

This brief was compiled by Conor Downey. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this, brief please contact conor@usresistnews.org.


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