President Donald Trump may have created a conflict of interest with the signing of one of his latest executive orders. Trump’s February order calling for the review of the Clean Water Rule could directly benefit his many golf courses, producing a potential conflict between the presidency and his businesses.

The Feb. 28 executive order authorized the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Army Corps of Engineers to “reconsider” the Obama-era Clean Water Rule. The Clean Water Rule aimed to protect and regulate small bodies of water throughout the U.S., an addition to the 1972 Clean Water Act that did the same for large bodies of water.

But critics of the legislation, including farmers, real estate developers and golf-course owners, denounced the rule as overly regulatory and argued it would implement excessive government restrictions. Golf course owners could be forced to regulate and clean their fairways as a result of the rule, and Trump’s business holdings include courses in multiple states. If the law is repealed, it could benefit Trump’s properties, critics said.

 

“This conflict is disturbing,” Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, told the Associated Press. “His failure to completely step away from his business raises questions about his White House actions.”

Trump declined to divest himself of his business interests upon assuming the presidency and instead chose to hand the reins to his sons.

The president called the Clean Water Rule “a horrible, horrible rule,” adding that “it has sort of a nice name but everything else is bad.”

However, some small farmers and golf course owners saw no potential conflict in the president's repeal of the bill.

“It’s not about the Trump administration doing something to benefit themselves,” said Bob Helland, a lobbyist for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. “We’ve been opposed to the rule from the start because we think every drainage area or pond would be subject to oversight.”

Helland noted that there are an estimated 161,000 acres of ponds, wetlands and streams among the nation’s golf courses that would be subject to regulation under the Clean Water Rule.

“It was a massive power grab,” Trump said in February before signing the executive order. “Regulations and permits started treating our wonderful small farmers and small businesses as if they were a major industrial polluter. They treated them horribly.”

GettyImages-148110464 President Donald Trump plays a round of golf after the opening of Trump International Golf Links Course in Balmedie, Scotland, Jul, 10, 2012. Photo: Getty Images