Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, addressed over 400 Tennessee farmers, ranchers, small business owners, and other guests recently at the Wilson County Exposition Center in Lebanon, Tenn., where he highlighted the new Trump administration’s proposal which would redefine the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS).
Wheeler told the crowd the main driver behind the new proposal was to create certainty for the American people. “One goal of our new proposed definition is to help landowners understand whether or not a project on their property will require a federal permit without having to hire outside professionals,” said Wheeler. “This proposal would replace the Obama EPA’s 2015 definition with one that respects the limits of the Clean Water Act and provides Tennessee and its landowners the certainty they need to manage their natural resources and grow their local economies.”
The acting administrator was joined by representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Agriculture. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, who has long fought for the repeal of the 2015 Obama administration WOTUS rule, spoke and hailed the redefinition proposal that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act as a positive achievement for American agriculture.
“When I meet with the men and women of American agriculture, one of their chief concerns is always the overreach of federal regulations. The 2015 WOTUS rule is regularly singled out as particularly egregious, as landowners have told me it impedes the use of their own land and stifles productivity,” says Perdue. “This welcome action from the EPA and the Army Corps will help bring clarity to the Clean Water Act regulations and help farmers know where federal jurisdiction begins and ends.”
According to Wheeler, the Trump proposal, unlike the Obama administration’s 2015 definition, contains a more straightforward definition that would result in significant cost savings, protect the nation’s navigable waters, help sustain economic growth, and reduce barriers to business development.
“This proposal is an effort by President Trump to make good on his promise to reduce burdensome regulations to give our farmers and ranchers the latitude to do what they do best — feed, fuel, and clothe this nation and our world,” added Perdue.
Also speaking at the event was American Farm Bureau Federation President, Zippy Duvall. “Farmers and ranchers work each day to protect our nation’s waterways and drinking water. For more than five years we have advocated for a new water rule that protects clean water and provides lucid rules for people and their communities to follow,” says Duvall. “This new rule will empower farmers and ranchers to comply with the law, protect our water resources and productively work their land without having to hire an army of lawyers or consultants.”
The proposal, which is co-signed by the Army, is the second step in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of “Waters of the United States” consistent with President Trump's February 2017 executive order entitled “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule.” The executive order states that it is in the national interest to ensure that the nation's navigable waters are kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of Congress and the states under the Constitution.