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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Reacts to Trump EPA’s New ‘Navigable Waters Protection Rule’

January 23, 2020

“President Trump delivered wonderful news for Americans who have been oppressed by EPA bullying and overreach.” - James Taylor

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL (January 23, 2020) – Today, the President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency announced a new “Navigable Waters Protection Rule” that finalizes its redefinition of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule under the Clean Water Act. The previous rule, as enforced by the Obama administration, treated small streams and even temporary ponds as “navigable” and subject to strict federal regulation of private property. The new rule gives states more autonomy to regulate waters within their borders.

The following statements from climate 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 Media Specialist Billy Aouste at and 312/377-4000.

“President Trump delivered wonderful news for Americans who have been oppressed by EPA bullying and overreach. In recent years, EPA has asserted jurisdiction over all sorts of waterways. State and local governments are far better at providing environmental stewardship best suited to their communities than federal bureaucrats in Washington, DC who are beholden to extremist environmental groups. This is another promise delivered by the Trump administration and Americans should be greatly pleased.”

James Taylor
Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy
The Heartland Institute

“The Trump administration’s Clean Water Act (CWA) regulatory reforms are not a roll-back of environmental protections but rather an acknowledgment that previous administrations had gone far beyond legitimate federal powers under CWA to regulate the uses of ephemeral, or seasonal, temporary streams or isolated wetlands not connected to navigable waters. CWA was intended to safeguard drinking water and shipping, not prevent farmers, ranchers, and potential home-builders from using their property in productive ways on the grounds that some soggy spot or isolated stream bed might be affected by development.

“Under the Constitution, if the federal government wants to control the use of private property for public purposes it is supposed to pay for that privilege, and under the Constitution’s federalist structure, for non-navigable waterways – or wetlands, ponds, and lakes that don’t cross interstate boundaries or aren’t federally created or managed – it is up to the states to decide what kinds of regulations, if any, to place upon their use.

“With these rule changes, the Trump administration is simply acknowledging the Constitution never authorized the federal government to impose national zoning across the nation.”

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Environment & Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News

“The Obama-era regulations constituted a large expansion of federal power and a usurpation of states’ authority, representing a threat to property rights and private enterprise. Property owners, farmers, and business owners faced mounds of new, onerous restrictions, red tape, and costs before being allowed to alter their land in even the smallest way. It’s a credit to the Trump administration that they’re rolling these regulations back.”

Tim Benson
Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute

James Taylor is president of The Heartland Institute.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
Tim Benson joined The Heartland Institute in September 2015 as a policy analyst in the Government Relations Department. @HeartlandGR

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