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New Trump Water Rules Get Mixed Reaction in Md. 

U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R-Md.) applauded a new Trump administration rule governing the nation’s waterways, saying it will protect farmers from the “costs and uncertainty caused by EPA lawyers.”

The Trump administration issued the rule Thursday. It overrules Obama-era water protections with weaker regulations that weaken limits on how much pollution can be dumped into streams, wetlands and other small waterways.

Agricultural groups, food processors and homebuilders also cheered the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

But the Hogan administration expressed dismay, suggesting that the weakened standards could impact ongoing efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

“We are deeply concerned about any federal action that could curtail or delay Chesapeake Bay restoration,” said Michael Ricci, a spokesman for Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R). “Maryland will continue to take the lead, and we will be ready to adapt in areas where federal programs are retreating.”

Democrats slammed the new rule, also known as the “Waters of the United States” standard.

“Continued success of the Clean Water Act requires a clear and scientifically sound definition for determining which bodies of water are protected, while protecting those waters that influence the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters,” Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement.

Trump’s WOTUS rule eliminates Clean Water Act protections for the majority of the nation’s wetlands and more than nearly 20% of streams. It replaces regulations that have been in place since the Reagan administration.

Harris, who represents the farm-rich Eastern Shore, praised Trump’s “common sense approach” to “protecting farms from regulations dictated by distant bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

“I support President Trump’s efforts to balance protection of the environment with protection of our farms and rural economy,” the lawmaker said in a statement. “Under the new rule, rather than expanding the role of the federal government, states will retain regulatory authority over non-navigable waterways and ditches that fill only during rainfall.”

But Cardin said Trump’s industry-backed rule will endanger drinking water safety and in addition to making it harder for Maryland to meet its Chesapeake Bay restoration goals.

“Under the Trump administration’s new water rule, isolated wetlands not connected by surface waters to navigable waterways in an average year will be denied federal protections,” he said in a statement. “This would make them more vulnerable to pollution, and make it harder for state and local governments, farmers, nonprofits and businesses to achieve their nutrient and sediment reduction goals.

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New Trump Water Rules Get Mixed Reaction in Md.