The new rule would replace the already-repealed Waters of the United States rule (WOTUS), crafted under President Obama, which expanded the types of waterways protected by federal law.
The Obama administration argued smaller bodies of water, even some seasonal ones caused by snowmelt, must be protected in order to stop pollution from reaching larger sources, including those used for drinking water.
Critics argue the changes will eviscerate the protections guaranteed by the Clean Water Act, not just reversing Obama-era protections but setting the U.S even further back.
“This is not just undoing the clean water rule promulgated by the Obama administration. This is going back to the lowest level of protection we’ve seen in the last 50 years,” Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said in a call with reporters. “This is a staggering rollback.”