News Feature | June 1, 2016

Trump Water Policy Advisor Wants Clean Water Update

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

One of Donald Trump’s advisors on the Clean Water Act (CWA) is a House Republican.

North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, a member of the Natural Resources Committee, says he is going to advise the presumptive Republican nominee on the Clean Water Rule, an update to the CWA which was passed by the Obama administration last year and is now tied up in court.

E & E Daily reported that Cramer, already serving as an energy advisor to Trump, has also been speaking to him on the Clean Water Rule (AKA "Waters of the U.S.").

“Cramer said he first discussed the rule — which would redefine which streams, rivers and wetlands receive automatic protection under the Clean Water Act — with Trump at a town hall meeting in Iowa,” the report said.

Cramer has been a vocal opponent of the Obama administration’s update to the CWA.

Per Cramer’s office: “Cramer has consistently opposed the Waters of the U.S. rule and has called on the EPA to change course on numerous occasions, citing its devastating economic impacts, substantial regulatory costs, bureaucratic barriers to economic growth, and severely negative impacts on farms, small businesses, commercial development, road construction and energy production, as well as the fact waters are to be governed by states and not the federal government.”

Still, Cramer does want to see changes to federal water laws. He wants Trump’s administration to update the CWA by routing out ambiguity in the law.

"[Let's] bring more clarity and specificity, more prescription to [the Clean Water Act], as well as the Clean Air Act and other broad authorities that have provided this opportunity for this type of mischief by administrations, be they Republican or be they Democrat," he said.

Cramer had other insights for Trump on federal water policy.

“One piece of advice Cramer would give The Donald: Keep the regular sequence of Water Resources Development Acts, the biennial authorization bills for locks, dams, flood control projects, storm barriers and other major water infrastructure efforts,” E & E Daily reported.

The EPA passed the Clean Water Rule last year to expand the number of U.S. waterways regulated by the federal government. The EPA argues that the rule is necessary to protect waterways and because Supreme Court decisions make it unclear what the agency may regulate under the CWA. Opponents, including congressional Republicans and the agriculture industry, say the EPA overstepped its bounds in rolling out the new regulation.

Facing legal challenges from opponents, it is likely the fate of the rule will not become evident “until after President Obama leaves office,” E & E Daily reported.