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Carolyn Kaster / AP

The White House begins attacking President Obama's specific environmental policies today with an executive order that launches the process of killing regulations designed to provide expansive federal water-quality protections.

Why it matters: The Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule is a top target of Republicans and various industry interests, such as agriculture and home building groups, who say Obama's EPA grabbed power to regulate a vast array of minor streams and wetlands in a way that far exceeds what Congress allowed under the Clean Water Act. Politically, Trump's order attacking WOTUS allows the White House to get Republicans all over the Capitol on the same page about at least one thing at a time when they're splintered over tax reform and replacing Obamacare.

The executive order is only the beginning of what's likely a lengthy bureaucratic slog to abandon the rule. It's one that will likely face legal opposition from environmentalists, who say President Trump's EPA will thwart protections for smaller or intermittent but important bodies of water that are critical to health of major waterways.

The order instructs EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rescind or revise the rule. A senior White House official said the Justice Department will back away from the legal defense — implementation has been stayed by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Between the lines: A draft of the order viewed by Axios plants the seeds for much more limited Clean Water Act oversight, and does it with a shout out to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

It calls on the agencies, when crafting a new measure, to use the scope of regulation called for by Scalia's opinion written for a plurality of justices in a splintered 2006 decision on the topic. The late justice, citing Webster's dictionary, wrote that Clean Water Act regulation should be limited to "only relatively permanent, standing or flowing bodies of water," which means "water as found in 'streams,' 'oceans,' 'rivers,' 'lakes,' and 'bodies' of water 'forming geographical features.'"

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

UN Security Council meeting on Israel-Gaza as fighting enters 7th day

Smoke billows from a fire following Israeli airstrikes on multiple targets in Gaza on May 16. Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council was preparing to meet Sunday, as the aerial bombardment between Israel and Hamas between entered a seventh day.

The latest: Four Palestinians died in airstrikes early Sunday, as Israeli forces bombed the home of Gaza's Hamas chief, Yehya al-Sinwar, per Reuters.

8 hours ago - World

In photos: Protests in U.S., across the world over Israeli–Palestinian conflict

A protest march in support of Palestinians near the Washington monument in Washington, D.C. on May 15. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of people rallied across the U.S. and the world Saturday following days of violence in Gaza and Israel that's killed at least 145 Palestinians, including 41 children, and eight Israelis, per AP.

The big picture: Most demonstrations were in support of Palestinians. There were tense scenes between pro-Israeli government protesters and pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Winnipeg, Canada, and Leipzig, Germany, but no arrests were made, CBS News and DW.com report.

Updated 15 hours ago - World

Biden in call with Netanyahu raises concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza

Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and raised concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza and the bombing of the building that housed AP and other media offices, according to Israeli officials.

The big picture: At least 140 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been killed in Gaza since fighting between Israel and Hamas began Monday, according to Palestinian health officials. Nine people, including two children, have been killed by Hamas rockets in Israel.

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