President heeds counties’ call to reset flawed ‘waters’ rule
Trump order sends EPA and Army Corps back to drawing board
Surrounded by county leaders from across the country, President Donald Trump today signed an executive order to revamp the Obama administration’s controversial “Waters of the U.S.” rule under the Clean Water Act and directed the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to come up with a new definition.
Under the order, the EPA and the Corps are to restart and rewrite the rule to enable more common-sense local implementation. Since the rule was originally proposed, NACo consistently requested the agencies withdraw and revise the rule to include state and local government concerns.
“We are encouraged by the president’s action and look forward to a renewed dialogue with the EPA and the Corps to develop more workable rules at the local level,” said NACo President Bryan Desloge. “Since counties play a critical role in implementing and enforcing federal water policies, it is crucial that the agencies work with us to develop rules and regulations that work at the local level.
“Our nation’s counties support clean water, and we support common-sense environmental regulations,” Desloge said. “Counties are on the front lines of preserving local resources, strengthening public safety and fostering economic growth, which all contribute to vibrant communities across the country.
“Throughout the rule-making process, we repeatedly called for collaborative intergovernmental engagement, greater certainty and a pragmatic rule to advance clean water goals without hindering counties’ vast public safety and infrastructure responsibilities.”
Counties own and manage public safety infrastructure including 45 percent of the nation’s road miles and associated ditches, 40 percent of bridges, as well as flood control channels, drainage conveyances and culverts used to prevent flooding, all impacted by the rule.
Since the proposal was unveiled in 2014, NACo testified before congressional bodies four times and steadfastly advocated for more collaboration and greater clarity. For more information, visit NACo’s online resource hub and action center.