The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) applauds an executive order issued today by President Trump that begins the process of rescinding or rewriting a controversial Clean Water Act regulation that would have given the government broad jurisdiction over land and water.
The order directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a formal review of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which took effect Aug. 28, 2015, and ostensibly was implemented to clarify the agency’s authority over various waters. That jurisdiction – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – had included “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. But the regulation broadened that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also covered lands adjacent to such waters.
“America’s pork producers are very pleased that the president ordered EPA and the Corps of Engineers to repeal or rewrite this ill-conceived, overbroad regulation,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “The WOTUS rule was a dramatic government overreach and an unprecedented expansion of federal jurisdiction and control over private lands.
“It was the product of a flawed regulatory process that lacked transparency and no doubt would have been used by trial lawyers and environmental activists to attack farmers.”
NPPC helped lead the agricultural community’s opposition to the rule, including producing maps showing the extent of the lands affected by the regulation. (EPA’s jurisdiction in Missouri, for example, would have increased by 77 percent under the WOTUS rule.) The organization also led the legal efforts against the rule, filing suit in a U.S. District Court and presenting a brief to a U.S. Court of Appeals. The latter halted implementation of the rule.
In arguing against the regulation to the appellate court, NPPC pointed out that EPA and the Corps of Engineers failed to reopen the public comment period after making fundamental changes to the rule before it took effect and withheld until after the comment period closed the scientific report on which the rule was based. The agencies also refused to conduct required economic and environmental analyses, engaged in a propaganda campaign to promote the rule and rebuke its critics and illegally lobbied against congressional efforts to stop implementation of the rule, said NPPC in its court brief.
“The WOTUS rule sought to hand control of land-use planning decisions to out-of-touch activists and government regulators in New York, San Francisco and Washington,” Weber said. “We all want clean water, but this regulation was just a big government land grab that would have allowed activists to micromanage all kinds of farming and business activities. We applaud President Trump for taking this action.”