Farmers are applauding President Donald Trump’s executive order Tuesday that reverses the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, which gave the agency virtually limitless authority to regulate water on private land.
Introduced under President Barack Obama, the WOTUS expanded the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Water Act to include, as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “almost any piece of land that gets wet and puddles.”
The Clean Water Act was intended to apply to “navigable” waters, but WOTUS interpreted that extremely broadly, so that it included waters with a “significant nexus” with navigable waters — in other words, taking in water that might eventually flow into navigable waterways.
The result was that the EPA could theoretically regulate everyday farming operations.
The Los Angeles Times notes that “farmers knew the cavalry was coming to their rescue on election night” because they expected Trump to repeal WOTUS. And on Tuesday, just hours before his first address to a special joint session of Congress, he delivered on those expectations.
The Times adds: “Trump had been uncharacteristically specific during his campaign about reversing the rules, and calls to ‘Repeal WOTUS’ were as common a rallying cry among growers as ‘Build the Wall’ was to his followers in rural manufacturing areas.
Newly-confirmed EPA director Scott Pruitt said in a statement: “The President’s action preserves a federal role in protecting water, but it also restores the states’ important role in the regulation of water.”
The State of California has been increasing its role in regulating water on private land, expanding its authority to include groundwater — a response prompted by fears of overuse during the recent extreme drought and the ongoing restriction of federal water allocations due to efforts to preserve the endangered Delta smelt.
With regard to federal regulation of water, however, farmers in California share their counterparts’ relief — and join those who feel satisfied that the new president is keeping his promises, regardless of “resistance” from Democrats and the media.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.