Donald Trump's war on clean water regulations could end up benefiting something near and dear to his heart (and his bank account): the dozen golf courses he owns in the US.
Trump last month signed an executive order calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to review, with a eye toward elimination, a regulation instituted in 2015 by Barack Obama. The Waters of the United States or the Clean Water Rule designates many smaller creeks and wetlands as protected under the Clean Water Act of 1972, which would require landowners to protect such bodies of water from pollution.
The Obama rule has been battled by builders, farmers and golf course owners - through their lobby group Golf Course Superintendents Association of America - who call it federal ''overreach'' and who don't want to be saddled with the extra costs of keeping smaller bodies of water on their land clean, even though environmentalist say they feed into larger water systems depended on by the public.
Trump's push against the rule raises yet another concern about his conflicts of interest in his dual role as both president and business owner (Bloomberg points out that the golf association includes 20 Trump employees). Critics worry that Trump is considering what's good for the bottom line at his golf courses, rather than what's good for the country.
''This conflict is disturbing and his failure to completely step away from his business raises questions about his White House actions,'' Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, told The Associated Press.
When Trump signed the executive order calling for reconsideration of the regulation, he blasted the Obama rule as ''horrible'' and called it a sign that federal regulation had ''truly run amok''.
Trump's order to ''rescind or revise'' the rule could take years because some replacement would have to be drafted. The Obama regulation is currently being challenged in court and hasn't taken effect yet.
Things could get hairy for the commander-in-chief and the golf course owner-in-chief when water use becomes a critical issue. Golf courses, especially those in hot climates like Trump's Mar-A-Lago resort, require extraordinary amounts of water to keep the greens green. And, unlike farmland, they don't help feed the population. Golf courses in the US were drinking up some 2.08 billion gallons of water per day for irrigation in 2015, Inside Science reported.
Trump doesn't appear to be the kind of golf course owner concerned about water conservation. He blasted the ''horrible look'' of the Pinehurst Resort course in North Carolina during the 2014 US Open. The club had cut back on irrigation as part of its drive to reduce water use.