Free-Market Environmentalists Applaud Trump Relief on Water Regulation

Elimination of “Epic Federal Power Grab” Will Help the Economy While Protecting the Environment

Washington, D.C. – Environmental experts with the National Center for Public Policy Research are applauding the Trump Administration’s move to rescind the Obama-era Clean Water Rule and consider a redefinition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). These experts are available for comment on how this and other regulatory reform efforts create economic as well as environmental benefits for the nation.

“In rescinding Obama’s WOTUS rule, the Trump Administration has lifted a huge burden from the shoulders of landowners. In truth, WOTUS was a scheme to impose federal zoning on millions of acres of private land across the country,” said National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen, Ph.D. “Landowners with ill-defined ‘waters of the United States’ on their property – including drainage ditches, puddles and stock ponds – would have had to seek government permits just to carry out normal farming, ranching or construction operations on their land. It was an epic federal power grab.”

On June 27, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would work with the Department of the Army and Army Corps of Engineers to rescind the Clean Water Rule that was imposed by President Barack Obama in 2015. The WOTUS definition would revert to language used before the Obama rule while the government engages in a process of wholly re-evaluating the definition. This move is in accordance with an executive order issued by President Donald Trump in February to ensure clean navigable waters while promoting economic growth, less regulation and constitutional compliance. The Obama rule was never implemented due to a legal challenge to the rule from the National Association of Manufacturers.

“Just as important as rescinding WOTUS is the second step EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is taking,” Dr. Cohen pointed out. “He will oversee the government recodification of the language of what constitutes a wetland under the Clean Water Act. This will bring long-overdue regulatory certainty to farmers, ranchers, fruit growers and other businesses, allowing them to operate without the fear of arbitrary and capricious acts by unaccountable Washington bureaucrats.”

Dr. Cohen is the author of the paper “WOTUS: The Facts About EPA’s Wet Fiction.”

“Through the abuse of regulations such as WOTUS, regulatory agencies have sought to control uses of private lands and waters adjacent to ‘navigable’ waters. They’ve also placed a straightjacket of regulatory authority over lands only wet during rainy seasons or following prolonged rains because runoff into ditches and creeks may eventually lead to something navigable. This usurpation of power over state regulatory authority and private property rights led to major legal nightmares across the nation,” added National Center Senior Fellow R.J. Smith. “Instead regulations protecting the nation’s navigable waters, the federal government used them for cost-free national land-use control. Trump’s decision to rescind the Clean Water Rule and re-examine the definition of wetlands is a long-awaited first step toward ending the unconstitutional misuse of regulation to control and take private property.

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The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.