Trump orders review of WOTUS

March 1, 2017 -  By

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Feb. 28 designed to begin the roll back of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule, NBCnews.com reported. It is the first major announcement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since its new head, Scott Pruitt, was confirmed by the Senate.

The executive order instructs both agencies to formally examine the Obama-era rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule, which put small bodies of waters, like tributaries and wetlands, under the control of the EPA and Army Corps. of Engineers. The rule, which protects 60 percent of U.S. bodies of water, was issued under the Clean Water Act of 1972 in 2015.

“The EPA so-called Waters of the United States rule is one of the worst examples of federal regulation, and it has truly run amok, and is one of the rules most strongly opposed by farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers all across our land,” said Trump to a group of farmers, housing developers and county commissioners gathered at the White House. “It’s prohibiting them from being allowed to do what they’re supposed to be doing. It has been a disaster.”

Since WOTUS was finalized under an existing law long before Obama left office, the rule cannot be overturned with the stroke of a pen.

After receiving an advanced copy of the rule, The New York Times said the order has “almost no legal effect” and will be used to begin the “lengthy and complicated legal process required to rewrite the rule—a process that could take longer than Mr. Trump’s first term.”

Industry advocates, such as the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) and Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE), have long opposed the rule calling it “government overreach” and warning that a permit may be necessary to complete basic tasks like planting a tree.

LM Government Affairs Blogger Gregg Robertson called these reactions “simply overblown.”

A federal court blocked the implementation of the rule in October.

 

About the Author:

Dillon Stewart graduated from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, earning a Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism with specializations in business and political science. Stewart is a former associate editor of LM.

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