Mar 06 2017
Overreach by Obama Administration Hurts Farmers, Ranchers, and Property Owners
President Trump has taken much-welcomed action on one of the Obama Administration’s most intrusive rules aimed at farmers, ranchers, landowners, homebuilders, and municipalities. President Trump recently issued an executive order to review the controversial “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule. This order is a clear rejection of the costly power grabs that became a troubling hallmark of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during President Obama’s two terms in office.
Within weeks of the finalized WOTUS rule two years ago, more than two dozen states – including Mississippi – were challenging it in court. The rule widely broadened the regulatory power of EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers by redefining “waters of the United States” to include small streams, ponds, ditches, and other non-navigable waters. It took only a few months for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to halt the rule’s implementation.
WOTUS Rule Lacks Proven Environmental Benefits
As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I have worked to block the WOTUS rule since its initial proposal – first supporting legislation to stop the rule from being finalized and later cosponsoring legislative measures to overturn it. Last year, Senate Democrats derailed a Republican-led effort to defund the rule during consideration of the energy and water appropriations bill. Democrats also opposed a bill to revise the WOTUS rule in a way that would protect private property owners, farmers, and ranchers.
Not only would the WOTUS rule be onerous for Americans to follow, it would jeopardize local economic growth without proven environmental benefits. In agricultural states like Mississippi, such regulation puts undue burdens on farmers and ranchers, where irrigation systems and farm drainage ditches could come under the thumb of Washington bureaucrats.
10th Amendment Puts Limits on Federal Power
President Trump’s executive order is a necessary review of the WOTUS rule and sets the stage for its full or partial repeal. I believe this review will demonstrate the rule’s inconsistency with the Clean Water Act, not to mention the disregard for property rights and state authority. In fact, new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was among those who challenged the rule when he served as attorney general of Oklahoma.
The 10th Amendment to the Constitution clearly states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The sweeping bureaucratic power ushered in by rules like WOTUS is the type of federal encroachment that our Founders feared.
President Trump has demonstrated his commitment to curbing this regulatory overreach and recognizes the harm it poses. My own work in Congress has underscored the importance of the 10th Amendment, and I will continue to support initiatives by Congress and the Administration to curb Washington power grabs. I hope this action on the WOTUS rule is the first of many regulatory rollbacks to come.