Next, President Trump signed a critical executive order aimed at stopping the “Waters of the U.S.” rule, which threatened coal jobs and Kentucky agriculture. This rule tried to extend the reach of the federal bureaucracy into every pothole, ditch and puddle in America. By sending the bureaucracies back to the drawing board, President Trump protected Kentucky’s coal workers and farm families.
The 2015 WOTUS rule attempted to clarify which wetlands and waterways are covered by the Clean Water Act. For farmers and ranchers, however, the 2015 rule provided no clarity or certainty. Instead, through vague and overly broad definitions of terms such as “tributary,” “adjacent” and “significant nexus,” the 2015 rule made it extremely difficult for a farmer or rancher to know whether a federal regulator would ultimately determine water features on his or her farm to be covered by the act. Additionally, the 2015 rule has the potential to create unnecessary regulatory burdens for farmers, ranchers and others who depend on their ability to work the land. It would also require additional federal permits and increase costs for farmers, ranchers and others. The second step of the new administration’s proposed rule will consist of the agencies going back to the drawing board to develop a WOTUS definition that protects water quality without asserting federal regulatory power over puddles in farm fields.
President Trump is taking a smart approach to the economy. He is trying to unleash the talent and ingenuity of the private sector by reducing the cost of government rules and regulations. Specifically, he is using number of executive orders to reduce and shrink government power over the economy and unleash free enterprise. Among other things, President Trump has nixed or is in the process of reforming several Obama-Era regulations on land and water use that would have been especially detrimental to Idaho. These include the Obama-Era power grabs pertaining to national monuments, sage grouse, and the so-called “WOTUS Rule,” (which affected puddles, ditches, and other water sources that have no connection to interstate commerce).
Over the last decade, the Environmental Protection Agency has steadily inserted new regulations into federal code to expand its jurisdiction over U.S. waterways. The most egregious of these efforts came in 2014 when the EPA, under President Obama, proposed the WOTUS rule. This rule set out the agency’s interpretation of which bodies of waters are “navigable” and therefore subject to federal regulation. This rule significantly changed EPA definitions for tributaries and regulated wetlands. The changes were worded so vaguely that any well-meaning farmer or land-owner with a drainage stream or rainstorm overflow could be accused of polluting navigable waters. It also could limit the ability of Hoosier farmers to use their private land as they see fit. While we can all agree that reducing pollution in Indiana’s waterways is a common-sense goal, this rule goes far beyond reasonable environmental protection. The sweeping regulations in the WOTUS rule are overly broad, burdensome and unnecessary.
As Governor, I have also worked with the Attorney General to push back on onerous regulations created by the Obama Administration. These include the Waters of the U.S. rule and the Clean Power Plan. Thankfully, Washington is reversing course on these rules under the new administration. In the past six months, the Trump Administration has moved to repeal the 2015 WOTUS rule, as well as launched a review of the controversial CPP, which was proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2014. The decision to repeal WOTUS and review CPP will help create more certainty for and spur future growth in Nebraska’s top industries. For example, WOTUS would have allowed the EPA to have regulatory power over practically any body of water in Nebraska—even ponds, ditches, and large puddles. This power would have been easily misused by environmental activists. Not only would have CPP been a major burden to the ag producers in our number one industry, but businesses also would have been required to file expensive and unnecessary permits.