"This week, while attention was focussed on the Senate’s health-care bill, the Trump Administration continued to quietly do the one thing it does well: wreak havoc on the environment. On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency released its plan to rescind the Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States rule, or WOTUS. WOTUS essentially represents the Obama Administration’s attempt to clarify which waterways are governed by the Clean Water Act. A memo that the E.P.A. issued when the rule was put in place, in 2015, notes that it protects streams that roughly one in three Americans depend on for drinking water. (This memo is not currently available on the E.P.A.’s Web site; to find it, you have to go to the archived site.)
You might think that the well-being of a third of the population—some hundred and seventeen million people—would be of significance to the E.P.A., but then you might also think that the agency is there to protect the environment. The Trump Administration thinks otherwise. In announcing the proposal, the E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, didn’t even bother to pretend that he was interested in public safety. Instead, he said, the agency’s goal was to “provide regulatory certainty to the nation’s farmers and businesses.”
Meanwhile, also on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Pruitt had met privately with the head of Dow Chemical, Andrew Liveris, during a conference in Houston, shortly before reversing an Obama Administration decision to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos for use on food crops. (An E.P.A. spokeswoman said that the two men “did not discuss chlorpyrifos.”)"