by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel
President Trump this week kept a campaign promise, one especially important to the West, ordering the EPA to withdraw its controversial “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) regulation.
It’s a welcome decision, though a great deal of work must be done now. That’s because Trump’s order temporarily reverts to the previous uncertainty, with constant disputes about which waters fall under the jurisdiction of the EPA.
EPA had finally resolved that uncertainty — by establishing absolute certainty that EPA had jurisdiction over all water everywhere. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution or our laws give the agency such overwhelming power. Recall Chairman Wayne Aspinall’s admonition that “in the West, when you touch water, you touch everything.” Nevertheless, EPA used the WOTUS rule to establish absolute control. It was the ultimate power grab, and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked its implementation last year, responding to an almost-unprecedented flurry of lawsuits challenging the EPA’s authority.