Trump to Sign Executive Orders on Water Rule, Black Colleges Initiative

Posted March 03, 2017

The flawed WOTUS rule would have expanded federal authority over virtually any water in the nation, including canals, irrigation ditches, vernal pools, and stock ponds.

Trump's order does not overturn the rule, which was already under a court injunction thanks to a lawsuit from 13 states, including New Mexico.

"After working with North Dakota farmers and ranchers for years to stop this unworkable EPA rule, the president's action today shows our concerns have been heard loud and clear", Heitkamp said, according to the release. "Time and again, the public has demonstrated their support for the commonsense clean water protections outlined in the Clean Water Rule".

Thirty-two states filed suit against EPA and the Corps to get federal judges to strike down the rule. The latter bill laid out protection for waters that were "navigable" or, in layman's terms, large, leaving America's small bodies of water vulnerable. But it must have flowing water-marked by a bed, bank and high water mark-to warrant protection.

The WOTUS rule was meant to reduce the number of punitive suits filed against anyone intending to pollute a waterway, by making it so companies must first apply for an EPA permit to do so.

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Science shows that specific water features can function like a system and impact the health of downstream waters.

The order instructs the EPA and Army Corps to "rescind or revise" the rule and requires the agencies to follow the guidance of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who defined protected waters as "relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing" waters or wetlands with a surface connections to navigable waters.

"The EPA's 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", Trump said. Some of the tributaries include the Santa Fe River, Rio Hondo, Red River and Rio Pueblo. The EPA estimates that WOTUS created more regulatory clarity for approximately 3 percent of United States waters, and that the rule would protect the drinking water of 117 million Americans, roughly a third of the population.

The White House had not published the text of the order as of Tuesday afternoon. "Today's executive order is a first step that will bring certainty to industry and ensure that Louisiana's energy, agriculture and construction sectors can bring good paying jobs to our communities and families". "But a few years ago, the EPA decided that "navigable waters" can mean almost every puddle or every ditch on a farmer's land, or anyplace else that they decide", Trump said before signing the order.

The rule is now on hold after a stay by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.