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Trump administration drops Obama-era water protection rule


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (WLNS/AP) — The Trump administration on Thursday revoked an Obama-era regulation that shielded many U.S. wetlands and streams from pollution but was opposed by developers and farmers who said it hurt economic development and infringed on property rights.

“The President’s proposal to roll-back limits on polluting chemicals in our lakes, rivers, and streams is remarkably out-of-touch with the existential threat that contaminated water poses to Michiganders’ health, safety, and way of life,” said U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Michigan, in a written statement. “Clean water out of your tap is a right and not a privilege.”

The Clean Water Act requires landowners to obtain federal permits before developing or polluting navigable waterways such as rivers and lakes. But disputes have long persisted over what other waters are subject to regulation — particularly wetlands that don’t have a direct connection to those larger waters, plus small headwater streams and channels that flow only during and after rainfall.

President Donald Trump had ordered the EPA and Army Corps to develop a replacement policy that has a more restrictive definition of protected wetlands and streams.

The question of which waters are covered under the Clean Water Act has inspired decades of lawsuits and numerous bills in Congress.

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, where two disputes over federal wetlands permits led to the 2006 Supreme Court case, said Trump “has decided to weaken protections for our water and reward corporate polluters.”

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