Pruitt is unraveling Obama’s ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Act

The Environmental Protection Agency, headed by Scott Pruitt, is making good on President Trump’s campaign promise to make government more efficient.

Last week, Pruitt signed the repeal of the Clean Water Rule and moved to amend the regulations defining “waters of the United States” or WOTUS.

“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” said Pruitt. “This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine ‘waters of the U.S.’ and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.”

Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Tom Buchanan applauded repeal of the WOTUS rule.

“After years of battling the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. rule, Oklahoma farmers and ranchers today applaud the agency’s decision to rescind the rule,” Buchanan said. “Clean water is crucial to farmers and ranchers because our very livelihoods depend on it. The WOTUS rule had nothing to do with clean water, but instead was an enormous land grab that created great confusion for farmers and ranchers.

“Where the previous EPA blatantly ignored the concerns of farmers and ranchers, President Donald Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt are now working to aid farmers and ranchers in producing high-quality and affordable food for the world.

“As Pruitt and his team at the EPA take the first steps in repealing this disastrous rule, we look forward to joining forces in creating common sense regulations to protect our water, our land, and our environment.”

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, praised the  announcement that it will replace the Obama administration’s WOTUS rule, which granted the federal government sweeping authority to regulate virtually all waters or wet areas throughout the country.

Under Pruitt’s proposed rule, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers would return to the process used for nearly ten years to determine which waterways should be determined Waters of the United States.

“Thirty-two states, two courts and even Obama’s own EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy all agreed that the WOTUS rule was deeply flawed and an illegal land-grab by unelected federal bureaucrats,” Inhofe said. “The WOTUS rule was anti-farmer, anti-rancher and would have been devastating for Oklahoma landowners. Today’s announcement follows through on President Trump and Administrator Pruitt’s commitment to rein the EPA back to its congressionally mandated role. The revised rule transforms a harmful, overreaching regulation back into a common-sense rule that will return the jurisdiction of non-navigable waters back to the states where it belongs.”

On February 28, Inhofe praised President Trump’s executive order that started to dismantle to the WOTUS rule.

In September of 2016, Inhofe released a report which detailed the expansion of the EPA and Army Corps’ jurisdiction under the Obama administration.

In January 2016, Inhofe joined Sen. Sasse, R-Nebraska, in formally requesting that the Department of Justice investigate whether officials at the EPA knowingly violated federal law in its WOTUS propaganda campaign.

In December of 2015, the Government Accountability Office determined that the EPA violated the law when it used taxpayer dollars for covert propaganda and unauthorized publicity  as well as for indirect or grassroots lobbying on WOTUS.

That same month, Inhofe sent a letter to the EPA requesting feedback on state implementation of EPA regulatory programs, including WOTUS.

Congress passed a Resolution of Disapproval against the WOTUS rule in January 2016. President Obama later vetoed this legislation and the Congress failed to override his veto.

On Nov. 3, 2015, Senate Democrats blocked consideration of Inhofe’s  S. 1140 by a vote of 57–41. The following day the Senate passed S.J. 22 Resolution of Disapproval introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, by a vote of 54–44. An additional 15 senators had publically expressed concerns with WOTUS.

In July 2015, Inhofe sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers requesting confirmation of an internal Army Corps of Engineers document that expressed grave concerns with the rule.

Despite a number of outstanding concerns, the final WOTUS rule went into effect in June of 2015. However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on the rule in October of 2015, blocking the final rule from going into effect after being challenged by 32 states.

Inhofe introduced The Federal Water Quality Protection Act, which would revise the WOTUS rule to no longer include a number of small bodies of water. President Obama threatened to veto this legislation.

In March 2015, Inhofe joined Sen. Barrasso, R-Wyoming, in Senate Budget Resolution amendment limiting the expansion of the WOTUS definition.

At the start of 2015, Inhofe called for the withdrawal of the WOTUS rule following a bicameral hearing on the rule.

In March of 2014 the Obama administration, EPA and Army Corps of Engineers announced a proposal to expand the definition of the waters of the United States in the Clean Water Act from navigable waters to virtually any body of water and wetland. In following months, Inhofe sent a number of letters to the President and EPA urging them to reconsider the rule.