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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to Trump’s Executive Order to Rescind WOTUS Rule

February 28, 2017

"I think America needs an EPA, but we need an EPA that’s focused on protecting the environment, not on satisfying the whims of environmentalists" - Rich Trzupek

On February 28, President Donald Trump is expected to order the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers to review the Obama-enacted Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Trump will effectively dismantle the federal regulatory overreach.

The following statements from energy and environment experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact New Media Specialist Billy Aouste at media@heartland.org and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/877-9100


“No doubt that environmental NGOs will describe this order in hysterical terms, confidently predicting an environmental disaster on the order of Chernobyl, for it is difficult to make a different call when your playbook has but one play. No doubt the mainstream media wring their hands and shed crocodile tears, without bothering to even attempt to understand – much less accurately explain – the detailed technical and regulatory issues that make this common-sense order such a wise move.

“Those of us in the trenches who deal with EPA excess have, quite literally, hundreds of examples where the EPA and Army Corps made wetlands designations that would appall any reasonable person possessed with an ounce of common sense. This was the case before President Obama’s WOTUS rule and it has only gotten worse since.

“My favorite personal example occurred prior to WOTUS. The Corps managed to hold up construction of a new industrial facility for months as they wrestled with the decision to designate two ruts made by a truck in an open field as wetlands. Why? Because anything that could drain into waters of the United States are themselves waters of the United States. So we had to determine if water could make its way down the ruts to a drainage ditch, which drained into a creek, which drained into an unnavigable river, which drained into the Illinois River, which is navigable and therefore ‘Waters of the United States.’

“President Trump should be applauded for trying to eliminate, or at least dial back, this kind of muddled regulatory thinking that hampers our ability to develop new projects that create wealth and jobs. I know some of my conservative colleagues sincerely believe we would be better off if the EPA was eliminated altogether. I respectfully disagree. I think America needs an EPA, but we need an EPA that’s focused on protecting the environment, not on satisfying the whims of environmentalists.”

Richard J. Trzupek
Policy Advisor, Environment
The Heartland Institute
media@heartland.org
312/377-4000


“President Trump is making good on his campaign promise to roll back regulations that hurt farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and anyone else who gets their hands dirty at work. The Waters of the United States rule would have turned control of the nation’s water supply to an unelected bureaucracy that is out of touch with rural America.”

Isaac Orr
Research Fellow, Energy and Environment Policy
The Heartland Institute
iorr@heartland.org
312/377-4000


“WOTUS was bad as a matter of law and bad as a matter of policy. Good riddance! EPA needs to follow the law and the guidelines laid down by the courts rather than changing the law and ignoring the courts through regulatory fiat. Nowhere in the Constitution does the federal government have the authority to regulate the use of wetlands, especially isolated wetlands and bodies of water not used or intimately and directly connected to navigable waters. EPA has enough to do without expanding its missions beyond what the law allows. Property owners should be allowed to alter their properties, yes even the bodies of water and soggy places on their property, as they had done throughout 200 plus years of this country’s existence without interference by government.

“If the federal government believes wetlands serve a public purpose and provide a public good, rather than imposing the costs of providing this good on private landowners, the public should bear the costs and have to provide compensation for the restrictions imposed on private property as the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides.”

H. Sterling Burnett
Research Fellow, Environment and Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News
hburnett@heartland.org
312/377-4000


“For clear evidence of the growing urban/rural divide in America, look no further than President Obama’s WOTUS rule.

“Farming is all about resource management, with water at the top of the list for most farmers. Staffed predominantly by people who’ve never worked a day on a farm, Obama’s EPA made it next-to impossible for farmers to manage water that runs through their property, thereby dealing a blow to the most efficient food-production system the world has ever known, something no other American president even dreamed of doing.

“But Obama’s actions were not surprising given what his supporters on the West Coast have been doing, blowing up the dams and draining the reservoirs that turned Southern California from a desert into some of the most productive farmland in the Union. As Republican Congressman Devin Nunes points out, anti-water, anti-farming environmentalists in his state have had the goal of removing a stunning 1.3 million acres of farmland from production for a couple decades now. All Obama did was transpose these tragically misguided efforts to the national scale.

“There’s nothing natural about farming. It’s not only the oldest profession, but the first to challenge nature and attempt to force it to do something nature does not do without persuasion: provide large amounts of food. Denying farmers the ability to control water on their land was an audacious step towards undermining centuries of agricultural advancement, and President Trump’s decisive action to rescind this flagrantly anti-human rule should not just be applauded by farmers, but by their customers, the American people.”

Mischa Popoff
Policy Advisor
The Heartland Institute
mischa@polyphase.us
312/377-4000


“Listen closely, that sound you hear is EPA’s boot being lifted from the necks of farmers, industry and consumers!

“As our nation moves forward under the Trump administration, our industries, farmers, and the taxpayers are starting to see relief from over-regulation by out-of-control regulatory agencies. Today we take one more step toward a common-sense and balanced approach with the repeal of WOTUS.

“This step is in the right direction for energy and food independence and for the farmers to get to work on what they do best, growing food. Let our farmers and ranchers get back to working their land and feeding America and the world.

“This is also a step forward for a new federal regulatory process that works collaboratively with the states, respects state sovereignty, considers both cost and benefits of regulation, and ends the one-size-fits-all federal mentality.

“The states have been in constant lawsuits over one-size-fits-all regulations from the previous administration. The time and money wasted in the courts is coming to an end, let’s let common sense prevail and Americans get back to work.”

Bette Grande
Research Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
governmentrelations@heartland.org
312/377-4000


“It looks like we are finally trying to get back to decent operational rules and away from the federal government trying to control everything.”

Walter Cunningham
Apollo 7 Astronaut and Author
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
walt@waltercunningham.com 3
312/377-4000


“The productive sector of the economy is now staggering under the cumulative burden of ever- increasing government demands and restrictions imposed with scant consideration of needs and effectiveness or costs and benefits. The result has become a growing economic malaise afflicting almost all productive activity.

“The WOTUS Rule is a prime example of this problem. It entails a vast new regulatory expansion over land use which addresses no clearly identified problem and has no clearly defined limits. It simply establishes arbitrary bureaucratic authority by the EPA over all land containing, bordering on, or even distantly connected by possible runoff to any wetland, pond, lake, stream, or other waterway. Moreover, the exercise of such authority requires only whatever unexamined hypothetical speculation the EPA may choose to offer.

“It is noticeable that opposition to this kind of vast bureaucratic expansion comes overwhelmingly from the productive sector of the economy and support for it comes strongly from the non-producers, especially academics, retirees, recreational groups, and government employees.

“For the productive sector the rollback of this kind of excessive regulation is taking on the dimensions of a protracted last stand with large numbers already having moved offshore or simply ceasing to do business. In the political sphere the recent major shift in sentiment has already been one outcome.

“The battle of WOTUS may come to be seen as the Waterloo of the Eco-era, and like the latter it is hard to imagine what the world might be like if the productive sector cannot reverse the tide of battle and falls back in full retreat. Detroit writ large across the nation perhaps.”

Walter Starck
Policy Advisor, Environment
The Heartland Institute
media@heartland.org
312/377-4000

Author
Richard J. Trzupek is a chemist who has been employed as an environmental consultant to industry for more than 25 years.
RTrzupek@TrinityConsultants.com
Author
Isaac Orr is a research fellow for energy and environment policy at The Heartland Institute. Orr is a speaker, researcher, and writer specializing in hydraulic fracturing, frac sand mining, agricultural, and environmental policy issues.
iorr@heartland.org
Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland research fellow on environmental policy and managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org
Author
Mischa Popoff is the author of the critically-acclaimed book, Is it Organic? He earned a B.A. from the University of Saskatchewan where he specialized in the history of nitrogen for fertilizer and warfare.
mischa@polyphase.us
Author
Bette Grande is a research fellow for energy and pension issues at The Heartland Institute. Prior to coming to Heartland, she served as a North Dakota state representative from 1996–2014, representing the 41st district.
governmentrelations@heartland.org @@BetteGrande
Author
Walter Cunningham is best known as pilot of Apollo 7, the first manned flight test of the Apollo Program to land a man on the Moon. He is a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot with the rank of colonel and 4,500 hours pilot time.
walt@waltercunningham.com
Author
Walter Starck is one of the pioneers in the scientific investigation of coral reefs. He grew up in the Florida Keys and received a PhD in marine science from the University of Miami in 1964.
media@heartland.org

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