Letter from Congressman Sam Graves:
Since it was first announced in 2011, the Waters of the U.S. rule—as envisioned by President Obama—has hung like a millstone around the neck of rural America. Better known as WOTUS, the rule drew the ire of farmers, small business owners, and many living in the heart of the country—and rightfully so.
President Obama’s WOTUS rule turned empty ditches, farm ponds and small streams into navigable bodies of water and placed them under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Something as simple as a puddle could have been regulated by the EPA under the wide-reaching definition! The onerous rule was put forward as the best way to protect our water; in reality, it was designed to give the federal government domain over every family farm and parcel of land in rural America.
Thankfully, President Trump announced last year that the rule had finally been ditched. He also announced that he would be replacing it with a common-sense rule that would protect our water while not infringing on the private property rights of folks in rural America.
Last week, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule was signed, providing much-needed clarity to farmers and landowners. This rule provides consistency and predictability. No one wants the EPA or Corps of Engineers wandering onto their land to pick and choose what to regulate. The rules need to be clear, concise, fair, and effective—that’s exactly what we got with this new rule.
To that end, what constitutes federally-regulated “waters of the US” is finally defined. What constitutes a ditch will now be in writing, and most of them won’t be regulated. The meaning of prior-converted cropland will now be clear for farmers. Finally, state and local authorities will be given far more flexibility to determine how to manage their water resources.
Critics have alleged that the new rule is just another example of Republicans wanting dirty water. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We just want to make sure that the regulations that folks must abide by are based in logic and reality.
That’s what this new rule accomplishes—ensuring we maintain a clean water supply while not overextending the reach of the federal government into places it doesn’t belong, like the empty ditch running through your back forty.
It is possible to have clean water and less bureaucracy; it just takes common sense and folks looking out for rural America to make that happen. The Navigable Waters Protection Rule is a perfect example of listening to the folks who fire the engine that drives America and implementing their ideas. I look forward to President Trump finalizing this rule and removing a major threat to our rural way of life.
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