Gary Brock photo at left:
Lucas County farmer Bill Myers, seated at left, confronts an official of the US Environmental Protection Agency in March, 2015 over the Waters of the United States rule that was approved later that year. Myers and other Ohio farmers were in Washington for the Ohio Farm Bureau’s President’s Trip to Washington and they raised a number of concerns about the rule, which President Donald Trump moved to overturn Tuesday.
WASHINGTON — Calling it a “disaster,” President Trump Feb. 28 signed an executive order targeting for repeal the Waters of the United States EPA rule put into place two years ago by the Obama Administration and fought against by farming groups across the country, including the Ohio Farm Bureau.
According to wire reports, Trump signed the executive order in a ceremony at the White House. The order seeks to undo the Waters of the United States rule, an Obama administration regulation that sought to reinterpret the Clean Water Act to extend federal protections to smaller rivers and streams.
“It has truly run amok. It’s been a disaster,” Trump said in a Roosevelt Room ceremony with farmers and lawmakers. He said the rule extended federal regulations “to nearly every puddle, to every ditch on a farmer’s land, or anywhere else they decide, right? It was a massive power grab.”
Trump’s plan of attack is similar to his earlier order aimed at a consumer-protection regulation called the Fiduciary Duty rule. Because the rule was finalized in 2015, the Trump administration will have to start the regulatory process from the beginning to remove it from the books. The executive order instructs the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do just that, asking them to reconsider whether federal jurisdiction extends to non-navigable streams.
But unlike the Fiduciary Duty Rule, which was scheduled to go into effect April 10, the Waters of the United States rule has already been blocked by a federal appeals court in Cincinnati. The executive order will also ask the Justice Department to put that appeal on hold while the administration reconsiders the rule, the official said.
Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, did not sound optimistic that the rule would survive.
“If this were an objective review, I think that would be fine,” he said. “If this is a review that the Trump administration has already decided what the outcomes going to be, that’s not good.”
For the last several years, Ohio farmers have lobbied against the rule, even going as far as meeting with U.S. EPA officials in their Washington headquarters during a Farm Bureau President’s Trip to Washington.