by E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow Greg Walcher
Leaders are often advised to be straightforward. “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.” The quote is often attributed to General George Patton, or sometimes to President Harry Truman. There is no evidence either of them ever said it, but they both certainly believed it. And both would be appalled when Congress passes legislation so vague that agencies can interpret the law however they choose.
Ironically, this saga is about a law that was not vague at all. Yet despite plain language in the law, agencies unilaterally expanded their own authority, to the point of absurdity.
This week the Administration officially repealed one of the most onerous, unpopular, over-reaching, and blatantly illegal regulations adopted during the Obama era – Waters of the United States (WOTUS). Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army R.D. James, who oversees the Corps of Engineers, announced that the agencies are finally repealing the regulation, which radically expanded the definition of “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act.