Next Up in the Regulation Rollback? The Burdensome EPA WOTUS Rule

Date: March 03, 2017

In targeting the Waters of the United States rule, Pres. Donald Trump looks to dismantle another burdensome regulation.

Pres. Donald Trump continues to follow through on his promise to roll back harmful regulations.

This time, Trump took on the Environmental Protection Agency’s harmful Waters of the United States rule, signing an executive order on Feb. 28 aimed at eliminating or drastically revising it. 

The rule, also known as WOTUS, was published in June 2015 and dictates which bodies of water fall under the control of the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a massive expansion of federal jurisdiction and is, in essence, an attack on property rights. The rule puts bodies of water as small as ponds, streams, and even dry creek beds under federal control. If a body of water is deemed within jurisdiction, then the property owner may need to secure an expensive and time-consuming permit to make changes on their own property. 

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Trump’s executive order calls for both the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to formally reconsider WOTUS, which could lead to either a rewrite or a complete repeal of the rule. 

“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. “It’s prohibiting them from being allowed to do what they’re supposed to be doing. It has been a disaster.” 

In response to the recent executive order, NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan said in a statement: “We are extremely pleased by the President’s action. The Waters of the U.S. rule is a massive expansion of the EPA’s power that would have imposed heavy compliance costs on small businesses and trigger a flood of lawsuits. The President is exactly right to order the EPA to reconsider and hopefully rescind the rule.” 

If the agencies do choose to revise the rule instead of rescinding it, the executive order directs them to consider defining “waters of the United States” in a way that’s consistent with a Supreme Court opinion written by former Justice Antonin Scalia in a 2006 ruling. That definition would likely be far less expansive than the June 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule, holding closer to truly navigable waters.

NFIB has been a strong opponent of the WOTUS rule since its initial proposal in April 2014, and has steadily fought against it since (learn more about our successful lawsuit in the related links below). NFIB will continue be active in the process on behalf of small business owners.

Related: 

NFIB’s ‘WOTUS’ Lawsuit: Small Business Takes on EPA 

WOTUS Lawsuit Update: The Fight Continues

NFIB Takes Action Against the Waters Rule

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