Obama’s WOTUS is repealed

The fight over the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule, the one fought by Oklahoma farmers and ranchers and the state’s congressional delegation might be finished.

The release of the new WOTUS rule by the Environmental Protection Agency drew some hearty support from Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. Frank Lucas who at the same time were critical of the Obama administration.

“The EPA’s release of this finalized WOTUS replacement rule is welcome news,” Inhofe said. “Today, we can finally put the Obama-era WOTUS rule behind us and put the power back where it belongs, in the hands of the states.”

“From the creeks and streams of Western Oklahoma to the dams of the Arkansas River in Tulsa County, today’s announcement by the Trump Administration is welcomed news for all Oklahomans,” added Rep. Lucas.

The EPA’s move forward, finalizing the new-WOTUS rule replacement, will give states and tribes more flexibility to determine how best to manage waters within their borders, in accordance with the Clean Water Act.

This action continues the Administration’s deregulatory agenda. Under President Trump, EPA has finalized 48 deregulatory actions, saving Americans more than $5 billion dollars in regulatory costs. The EPA has an additional 45 actions in development projected to save billions more.

” Rural states, like Oklahoma, have been severely harmed by the regulatory overreach of the Obama-era WOTUS rule. The agricultural community in Oklahoma was one of the hardest hit—which is why it was one of their top legislative priorities for so long. I’m proud that the threat of the federal government’s land grab is now officially dead,” added Sen. Inhofe.

He and Congressman Lucas were among those who worked with the Trump administration to repeal the old rule. In a statement from his office, Rep. Lucas indicated the rule should never have been created in the first place.

“WOTUS, under the Obama Administration, expanded the role of the federal government under the Clean Water Act from navigable and interstate waters to incorporate ditches, ponds, and streams- regardless of how unnavigable or temporary the water may be,” said Lucas. “At a time when the federal government should have been cutting burdensome red tape, the Obama Administration instead tied the hands of our nation’s farmers and landowners and subjected them to unprecedented federal overreach and divisive litigation.”

He said the new rule will continue to protection millions of miles of US waterways but also “dramatically reduce overburdensome regulation currently felt by farmers, ranchers, small business owners and landowners.

The WOTUS repeal isn’t well liked by Green-friendly news groups such as Axios which reported the development this way:

The intrigue: One gauge of how consequential the changes are for major industries like agriculture and oil producers, who applauded the move, and green groups is to look at the final stages of the regulation’s drafting.

Why it matters: Meetings with the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) give regulated industries, environmentalists and others a final chance to try and influence regulations.

How it works: OIRA keeps a tally of who met with their people and EPA staff after EPA sent them the final rule for review.

  • The records list 32 meetings with outside parties dating back to 2018, which encompasses both the recision of Obama-era protections and the new regulation that greatly scales back oversight.

Parties who made their pitch in recent weeks include…

  • The American Petroleum Institute
  • The American Forest and Paper Association
  • The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
  • Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
  • The Waters Advocacy Coalition, an industry umbrella group of entities like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Home Builders.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council

But Axios did not report how many meetings were held with groups when the Obama White House developed the controversial rule. Nor did it report which groups were part of the development and which groups were left out of those meetings.