The Trump administration on Tuesday took a major legal step toward repealing a bitterly contested Obama-era regulation designed to limit pollution in about 60 percent of the nation’s bodies of water.
The rule, known as Waters of the United States, or Wotus, had extended existing federal protections of large bodies of water, such as the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound, to smaller bodies that flow into them, such as rivers, small waterways and wetlands. Issued under the authority of the 1972 Clean Water Act, the rule has been hailed by environmentalists. But farmers, ranchers and real estate developers oppose it as an infringement on their property rights.
President Trump signed an executive order in February directing Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to begin the legal process for rolling back the water rule, calling it “one of the worst examples of federal regulation.”
On Tuesday, Mr. Pruitt released a 42-page proposal to rescind the rule. Publication of the plan is the first step in a…