Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The Environmental Protection Agency pushed back the applicable date of a 2015 rule redefining government power over small waterways by two years.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a statement Wednesday announcing the agency filed legal documents required to suspend the "Waters of the United States" rule, developed by the Obama administration, for two years.
"Today, EPA is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America's farmers and ranchers," said Pruitt. "The 2015 [Waters of the United States] rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation."
The rule was intended to limit pollution in about 60 percent of the United States' bodies of water by more clearly defining which bodies are protected by the Clean Water Act.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order to repeal the rule Feb. 28.
It originally had an effective date of Aug. 28, 2015, but was halted due to a stay by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Last week the Supreme Court determined the appeals court lacked the authority to issue a stay because it did not have original jurisdiction to review these challenges.
The Natural Resources Defense Council warned the delay will put significant water supplies at risk.
"EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is racing the clock to deny protections for our public health and safety. It's grossly irresponsible, and illegal -- and we'll challenge it in court," the council's senior attorney, Jon Devine, said.