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EPA chief finalizes repeal of WOTUS

EPA chief finalizes repeal of WOTUS

  • Updated
Cattle at pond

Cows stand in a farm pond to catch a break from the August heat near Rock Port in Atchison County, Mo.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The Trump administration says revoking an Obama-era rule on Waters of the U.S. would provide "much-needed regulatory certainty" for farmers, homebuilders and landowners.

Writing in the Des Moines Register Sept. 12, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James call the Obama rule "an egregious power grab" that led to even isolated ponds being subjected to federal regulation.

Wheeler and James say their proposed rule would clearly define "where federal jurisdiction begins and ends." They say a new definition would be finalized in the winter.

“A patchwork of regulations existed across the country as a result of various judicial decisions enjoining the 2015 Rule,” James said. “This final rule reestablishes national consistency across the country by returning all jurisdictions to the longstanding regulatory framework that existed prior to the 2015 Rule.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation says the Trump administration's plan to revoke an Obama-era clean water rule is a good move for farmers.

USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue said in a news release, “Repealing the WOTUS rule is a major win for American agriculture. The extreme overreach from the past Administration had government taking the productivity of the land people had worked for years.”

Congressional relations director Don Parrish says the 2015 regulation that extended federal protection to many U.S. wetlands and waterways created uncertainty about where farmers could cultivate land.

Parrish says, "It would be great if farmers didn't have to hire an army of consultants and lawyers just to be able to farm."

Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota says the Obama rule "did nothing to advance good water management."

But environmentalists say the Trump administration move would leave millions of Americans with less safe drinking water and damage wetlands that prevent flooding.

Farmers, homebuilders and other business interests say the rule has harmed economic development and violates property rights.

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