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Executive order directs EPA, Corps to review WOTUS rule


By: Georgia Farm Bureau
3/8/2017 11:19:25 AM


In an executive order issued Feb. 28, President Donald Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil works to review and rescind or revise the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) finalized in 2015.

The EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pushed the WOTUS rule through the rulemaking process and by doing so expanded the federal government's regulatory reach. Agricultural groups including Farm Bureau opposed it, contending that the rule went beyond Congress' intent under the Clean Water Act.

"We thought from the start that the Waters of the U.S. rule was too broad and granted the federal government too much authority over what happens on private property," said Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long.

Trump also directed the EPA and Corps of Engineers to review actions to implement the rule and rescind or revise those actions. The two agencies were also directed to notify U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions of their review to allow his office to take measures relating to pending litigation related to the rule. Georgia and more than two dozen other states sued to stop the rule and the courts have halted its implementation pending the outcome of those cases.

The executive order recommended that the agencies consider defining the term "navigable waters" in a manner consistent with the opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the 2006 case Rapanos v. United States. In that opinion, Scalia said the phrase "waters of the United States" includes "only those relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water 'forming geographic features' that are described in ordinary parlance as "streams[,]


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