Twin Pines’ original proposed plan would have required a permit under stricter, previous regulations. It faced an easier path forward under Trump’s rollback, and was able to modify its proposal so the property site would not touch any federally regulated waters, according to the letters provided to the Associated Press by the Southern Environmental Law Center. The company then withdrew its permit.
Developers that apply for a federal water permit could now have their projects assessed under the interim rules.
Environmentalists are pushing federal agencies to revisit their findings on Twin Pines.
The company could face a lawsuit alleging it violated the Clean Water Act, according to Ann D. Navaro, an attorney who represents developers and a former assistant chief counsel for litigation at the Army Corps.
The federal permitting process allows the public to comment on projects and it can force builders to reduce the harm that construction causes to waterways.
Last August, an Arizona federal judge who struck down the Trump-rule cited federal efforts that identified more than 300 projects that advanced under Trump that would have needed a permit under previous rules.
The Trump water rule was considered a victory for builders, oil and gas developers, farmers and others who expressed frustrations about the Obama administration’s rule and said protections of waterways are better left to states. Those groups often say that broad federal protections make it difficult to do their work, in part because of lengthy permitting processes.