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Executive Order Begins Dismantling Of Small Stream And Wetland Rule

K Bacon

Last week, President Trump signed an executive orderto begin the process of eliminating a 2015 Clean Water Act rule known as the Waters of the United States that gave extra protections to smaller streams and wetlands.

The rule was controversial with many in the agriculture and energy industries because it created more regulations. But Wyoming Trout Unlimited Program Director Cory Toye said, as a mountain state, Wyoming benefited from that rule. He said it protected Wyoming’s recreation industry from oil and gas pollutants that can hurt the health of cold water fisheries.

“A large part of Wyoming’s economy is this invaluable fish and wildlife presence,” said Toye. “And ensuring clean water will generate that tourism, that’s positive for the revenue coming into the state.”

Toye said that with so much energy development in the state, such a rule was warranted. He said oil and gas pollutants cause problems for fish.

“It could eliminate oxygen levels in the water. It could introduce something foreign that is lethal for fish. Limiting things like that that could threaten temperatures [and] nutrients. It’s something that’s important for cold water fish.”

But Toye said Trout Unlimited doesn’t oppose energy development and plans to help find a compromise that would still protect smaller streams and wetlands.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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