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States will gain power over water in WOTUS replacement, says Trump

The Trump proposal would replace the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule, which defined the upstream reach of federal clean-water laws.

President Trump will propose limits on federal jurisdiction over waterways this week, said Iowa Senator Charles Grassley on Tuesday. Trump hinted at the proposal during a speech to farmers, saying it would “allow states to manage their water resources based on their own needs and what their farmers and ranchers want.”

The Trump proposal would replace the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule, which defined the upstream reach of federal clean-water laws. Groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation were in the forefront of challenging WOTUS (as the rule was known) as a power grab. The EPA finalized repeal of the 2015 rule last fall, to be followed by a replacement rule. “President Trump is expected to release the final rules on the Waters of the United States this week,” Grassley told farm broadcasters.

Speaking at the Farm Bureau’s annual convention on Sunday, Trump said jurisdiction over water “rightfully belongs to the states … That is why I am directing the [U.S. Army] Corps of Engineers to immediately withdraw the proposed rule — just submitted recently, meaning last administration — and allow states to manage their water resources based on their needs and based on what their farmers and ranchers want.”

“Water is the lifeblood of agriculture, and we will always protect your water supply,” said Trump, to applause.

During a weekly teleconference, Grassley said, “The Trump administration will set common-sense limits on state vs. federal jurisdiction over the waterways and make it easier for state and local governments and farmers to comply.” He declined to elaborate.

To read a transcript of Trump’s speech to the AFBF, click here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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