News Feature | September 30, 2016

Trump, Clinton Debate Water Rule

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

The divisive water rule proposed by federal agencies under the Obama administration is making a splash in the presidential campaign.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton declared last week that she supports the “waters of the United States” rule (WOTUS) proposed by the U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. The declaration “appears to be her first public endorsement of the controversial rule,” Politico reported.

Clinton told the publication Farm Futures: “I support the rule, but know we have to work with all stakeholders to ensure its common sense implementation. I was pleased the EPA worked hard to ensure the Clean Water Rule maintains longstanding exemptions for common farming practices, while clarifying the Clean Water Act and ensuring much needed certainty for all stakeholders so our families and businesses can rely on clean water.”

Republican nominee Donald Trump took the opposite view of the rule, calling it “unconstitutional.” He said that if he were elected, he would “direct the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA to no longer use this unlawful rule and related guidance documents in making jurisdictional determinations. This rule is so extreme that it gives federal agencies control over creeks, small streams, and even puddles or mostly dry areas on private property. I will also ensure that these agencies respect the valid exclusions under environmental statutes for agricultural practices. As importantly, I will appoint a pro-farmer administrator of EPA.”

The EPA argues that the “waters of the United States” rule (WOTUS) is necessary to protect waterways and because Supreme Court decisions make it unclear what the agency may regulate under the Clean Water Act. The rule is not currently enforceable while it remains tied up in the courts. It is strongly opposed by Republicans and the agriculture industry, who say it constitutes government overreach.

Oral arguments in one of the challenges to the rule are set for November in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, The Washington Examiner reported.