Our nation’s natural resources have no better friend than farmers and ranchers whose livelihood depends on them. From growing crops to raising livestock, their long term success is dependent upon sustainable practices. This is why President Obama’s oppressive Clean Water Rule, also known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS), was unwelcome and even offensive to people throughout the Midwest.
WOTUS sought to greatly increase the EPA’s authority to regulate “ephemeral streams” - those which flow only when it rains or snow melts – by expanding the definition of navigable waterways under the Clean Water Act. However, a vast array of legal scholars, state officials, and federal judges have agreed this Obama-era regulation is both outside the will of Congress and downright unconstitutional.
It’s not at all difficult to imagine the ways in which an activist administration might use these expanded powers to issue a litany of burdensome and unnecessary regulations surrounding everything from irrigation ditches to water puddles. As a result of the EPA’s actions, I introduced a joint resolution to repeal WOTUS under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows Congress to overrule any new regulations. The resolution easily passed both the House and Senate, but was vetoed by President Obama.
When President Trump took office, he attempted to roll back the rule almost immediately. Unfortunately, the courts intervened saying the current rule would have to be replaced with a completely new one, rather than rolled back. Much to the relief of farmers and ranchers across the country, the EPA announced a replacement rule this week which both honors past court decisions and includes a more appropriate definition of navigable waterways.
Under the new rule, the EPA will continue to do its job while respecting the rights of farmers and ranchers to steward our natural resources as they have for generations. I appreciate President Trump for his efforts to shield our agricultural producers from burdensome regulations and I’m proud to have played a part in bringing the Obama administration’s overreach to light. I look forward to this rule being finalized for the benefit of our rural economy.