Trump EPA to roll back Obama-era water protections

WASHINGTON, Sept 12 (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday is expected to announce the repeal of a 2015 Obama administration regulation that expanded protections of waterways such as wetlands but that farmers, miners and manufacturers decried as overreach.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler will make the announcement on Thursday morning, with representatives of the National Association of Manufacturers standing alongside.

Wheeler told the Washington Post in an interview published on Thursday that the repeal will give bring more clarity to companies who face a “patchwork” of different definitions of what waterways are regulated under the Clean Water Act.

President Barack Obama’s 2015 Waters of the United States rule defined which streams and wetlands are protected by the 1972 Clean Water Act from pollutants including pesticides, fertilizers and mine waste.

Earthjustice and other environmental groups on Thursday warned that the Trump administration repeal will have major impacts on the drinking water of 117 million Americans, as well as weaken safeguards for streams and wetlands that help reduce flooding and filter out pollution.

“President Trump’s administration wants to turn back the clock to the days of poisoned flammable water. This is shameful and dangerous,” said Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice president.

National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase said in a statement: “Over the years, an unclear definition has resulted in confusion, inconsistencies and costs, inhibiting essential infrastructure upgrades and causing delays, unnecessary red tape and lawsuits.” (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)