Trump Signs Executive Order Weakening Environmental Protection of Nation’s Waterways

The Tennessee River outside of Chattanooga was a toxic sewer because of the waste dumped by commercial interests, until it was cleaned up under the Clean Water Act. Donald Trump signed an Executive Order weakening the government’s ability to protect the waterways from corporate polluters © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Donald Trump continues his campaign to dismantle environmental protection apparatus in favor of corporate polluters. Today, he signed an executive order making it harder to protect the nation’s waterways. Anita Kumar, White House Correspondent, McClatchy Newspapers, provided this pool report:

POTUS signed WOTUS (Waterways of the United States) executive order in the Roosevelt Room. He first spoke briefly at a podium, mentioning his EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, before sitting down at a small table to sign the order.

“We are going to free up our country and it’s going to be done in a very environmental and positive environmental way, I will tell you that. Create millions of jobs. So many jobs are delayed for so many years and it’s so unfair so I want to congratulate Scott.”

“I want to thank everyone for being here today. We have a great group of farmers, home builders and county commissioners. They’re all represented. They’re standing alongside of me. I also want to thank Jim Inhofe who is terrific in so many different ways. Beyond even this. So I want to thank Jim and the leadership in the Senate. A great friend of mine, a great friend of mine, John Barrasso.”

“EPA’s so-called waters of the United States rule is one of the worst examples of federal regulation and it’s truly run amok and it’s one of the rules most strongly opposed by farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers all across our land prohibiting them from being allowed to do what they are supposed to be doing. Been a disaster.”

“The … act says the EPA can regulate navigable waters meaning waters that truly affect interstate commerce. A few years ago the EPA decided that navigable waters can mean nearly every puddle or every ditch on a farmer’s land or anywhere else that they decide. It was a massive power grab. EPA regulators were putting people out of jobs by the hundreds of thousands and regulations and permits starting treating our wonderful small farmers and small businesses as if they were major industrial polluters. They treated them horribly, horribly. If you want to build a new home for example you have to worry about being hit with a huge fine if you fill in a puddle, just a puddle. I’ve seen it….In one case in Wyoming, a rancher was fined $37,000 a day by the EPA for digging a small watering hole…his land. These abuses are why such incredible opposition to this rule from the hundreds of organizations took place in all 50 states. It’s a horrible, horrible rule. It was a nice name but everything else is bad. I’ve been hearing about it for years and years. I didn’t know necessarily I would be in a position to do something about it but we’ve been hearing about it for years.”

“With today’s executive order, I am directing the EPA to take action, paving the way for the elimination of this very disruptive and horrible rule. So I want to thank everybody for being here. And I will sign wherever I’m supposed to sign. There we are. Thank you very much.” 

He was surrounded by about 25 people, including VPOTUS and First Lady Melania Trump.

White House passed along this list of attendees:

Senate:

John Barrasso (EPW Chair)

Joni Ernst

Deb Fischer

Dan Sullivan

Heidi Heitkamp

James Inhofe

Pat Roberts (Ag Chair)

John Boozman (Water Subcommittee Chair)

House:

Bill Shuster (T and I Chair)

Bob Gibbs (introduced WOTUS bill)

Adrian Smith

Paul Gosar

Scott Tipton

Other Attendees:

–  Commissioner Bryan Desloge (Leon County, FL) NACo President

–  Supervisor Gregory Cox (San Diego County, CA) NACo Leadership

–  Commissioner Roy Brooks (Tarrant County, TX) NACo Leadership

–  Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt (Forsyth County, NC)

–  Commissioner Diane Jones (Kent County, MI)

–  Supervisor Melvyn House (Pottawattamie County, IA)

–  Commissioner Terence Farrell (Chester County, PA)

–  Commissioner Christian Leinbach (Berk County, PA)

–  Commissioner Rob Arlett (Sussex County, DE) Trump State Chair

–  Commissioner Rose Pudliese (Mesa County, CO)

–  Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez (El Paso County, CO)

–  Matt Chase (Executive Director, NACo)

–  Zippy Duval (American Farm Bureau President)

–  Granger MacDonald, Chairman of the board of the National Assoc of Homebuilders

Pool was ushered into the Roosevelt Room at 2:33 and out at 2:28 pm.

Here is the Executive Order:

EXECUTIVE ORDER

RESTORING THE RULE OF LAW, FEDERALISM, AND ECONOMIC GROWTH

BY REVIEWING THE “WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES” RULE

     By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  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 the Congress and the States under the Constitution.

Sec2.  Review of the Waters of the United States Rule.  (a)  The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (Administrator) and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (Assistant Secretary) shall review the final rule entitled “Clean Water Rule:  Definition of ‘Waters of the United States,'” 80 Fed. Reg. 37054 (June 29, 2015), for consistency with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order and publish for notice and comment a proposed rule rescinding or revising the rule, as appropriate and consistent with law.

(b)  The Administrator, the Assistant Secretary, and the heads of all executive departments and agencies shall review all orders, rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies implementing or enforcing the final rule listed in subsection (a) of this section for consistency with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order and shall rescind or revise, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules rescinding or revising, those issuances, as appropriate and consistent with law and with any changes made as a result of a rulemaking proceeding undertaken pursuant to subsection (a) of this section.

(c)  With respect to any litigation before the Federal courts related to the final rule listed in subsection (a) of this section, the Administrator and the Assistant Secretary shall promptly notify the Attorney General of the pending review under subsection (b) of this section so that the Attorney General may, as he deems appropriate, inform any court of such review and take such measures as he deems appropriate concerning any such litigation pending the completion of further administrative proceedings related to the rule.

Sec3.  Definition of “Navigable Waters” in Future Rulemaking.  In connection with the proposed rule described in section 2(a) of this order, the Administrator and the Assistant Secretary shall consider interpreting the term “navigable waters,” as defined in 33 U.S.C. 1362(7), in a manner consistent with the opinion of Justice Antonin Scalia in Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 (2006).

Sec4.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,

February 28, 2017.

 

 

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