By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, June 27, 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the agency would begin the withdrawal of the Obama administration’s controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. US Senator Luther Strange (R-Alabama) and US Representatives Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) and Martha Roby praised the move to relieve Alabama farmers and ranchers from what they feel was a burdensome regulatory overreach.
Sen. Strange said in a statement, “When I visit rural Alabama, farmers and ranchers tell me that WOTUS is the biggest problem they face. Across the State, small family operations have been struggling to succeed under a wet blanket of federal government regulations. Today’s announcement brings new hope for Alabama’s producers, and I am proud to continue my work with an EPA that understands its role, and an administration that is committed to helping American small businesses thrive.”
US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said in a statement, “The Trump Administration is absolutely right to rescind the misguided and burdensome ‘Waters of the US’ rule. Not only has the legality of the rule been questioned by federal courts, but it would have had a devastating impact on Alabama farmers, foresters, and landowners. By putting a stop to this flawed rule, we can focus on policies that actually work in protecting and preserving our natural resources without unnecessarily harming hardworking Americans.”
US Representative Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) said on social media, “Finally some good news from the EPA! This is a victory for farmers and land owners in Alabama and across our country.”
The proposed rule sought to redefine “navigable waterways” to include everything from a family pond to small ditches. The old rule gave federal authorities jurisdiction over navigable waterways only. This new definition would have subjected farmers, foresters, municipalities, and small businesses to additional federal regulation and added compliance costs.
The US Environmental Protection Agency and US Army Corps of Engineers released a proposal on Tuesday to repeal the controversial 2015 Clean Water Rule.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said, “We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses.”
The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972 and last amended in 1987, is intended to protect the nation’s waters from pollution.
Congressman Byrne has strongly opposed the regulation since it was first proposed. Strange fought the implementation of the WOTUS rule as Attorney General of Alabama and filed a joint suit with 17 other states to stay the rule in September 2015. Implementation of the unpopular rule has been put on hold by a court ruling since 2015.
Strange was appointed by former Governor Robert Bentley (R) to fill the Senate vacancy created when Sen. Jeff Sessions was confirmed as US Attorney General.
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.