THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE: Acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler outlines deregulation

A Dearing plant nursery was the backdrop for acting Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler to outline proposed changes to the “Waters of the U.S.” rule that determines which waters are subject to federal regulation.

Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, has served as acting EPA administrator since the July resignation of Scott Pruitt amid various controversies related to excessive personal spending.

The proposed changes, cheered by farmers in the audience, are intended to allow a landowner “to tell if water is federal without having to hire outside professionals,” Wheeler said. “I say that as a former outside professional.”

The changes leave six categories of water considered waters of the U.S.: navigable waters, tributaries, some ditches – used for navigation or affected by tides – certain lakes and ponds, impoundments and wetlands connected to the previous five, Wheeler said.

The changes also define what is not a water of the U.S.: waters caused only by rain, groundwater, many roadside and farm ditches, converted cropland and stormwater control features, he said.

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