Trump Rolls Back WOTUS - Stops EPA Bullying of Land Owners

Another HUGE Promise Kept by President Trump!

by Abby Smith  | January 23, 2020 01:10 PM

The Trump administration unveiled a rewrite of an Obama-era clean water rule Thursday, setting a narrower definition for which waters are covered under federal protections.

The new rule, which will replace the Obama administration waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule, is meant to fulfill one of President Trump’s major energy and environmental priorities. Trump, in recent remarks to the American Farm Bureau, called the WOTUS rule “one of the most ridiculous regulations of all,” saying it “gave bureaucrats virtually unlimited authority to regulate stock tanks, drainage ditches, and isolated ponds as navigable waterways and navigable water.”

Under the Trump administration’s regulation, issued Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, four types of waters are covered by federal protections: traditional navigable waters, such as seas and rivers; streams that flow into traditional navigable waters; wetlands right next to covered waters; and certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the new rule — which they've dubbed the "Navigable Waters Protection Rule" — offers clarity to farmers, ranchers, developers, manufacturers, and other land owners, so they don’t have to spend “tens of thousands of dollars on attorneys and consultants to determine whether waters on their own land fall under the control of the federal government.”

The narrower definition would exclude some waters that were covered under the Obama-era rule, including wetlands connected to covered waters through groundwater, many ditches, and ephemeral streams, or streams that flow with rain water.

“We’ll see more clarity coming out of this final rule,” said Jake Tyner, a manager and associate policy counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute.

Businesses, particularly small business owners, “will be able to look at a water and be able to determine whether it is navigable or not,” Tyner said, adding the Obama administration’s rule had led to confusion that could require businesses to hire consultants and lawyers “to really get into the weeds on this.”

Environmentalists, however, say the Trump administration’s rule goes further than rolling back the Obama version of regulation, and in fact excludes waters that have been covered by federal agencies for decades.

“It’s a real departure from what we’ve been doing for decades now,” said Blan Holman, senior attorney of the Southern Environmental Law Center's Charleston office and leader of its Clean Water Defense Initiative.


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