Sullivan applauds order to overturn EPA water regulation

Murkowski commends president’s executive order on WOTUS

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, has posted on social media his approval of President Trump’s executive order directing the Environmental Protection Agency to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s Clean Water Rule.

The legislation, which would protect many of the nation’s streams and wetlands, has not been implemented since it was finalized in August of 2015, because it is tied up in extensive litigation.

“Today I joined President Trump and several of my colleagues for the signing of a new executive order to review and roll back the expansive overreach in the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule, which gave the EPA vast new authority over lands across the country, particularly in Alaska,” Sullivan wrote on his Facebook page on Feb. 28.

“This new order signals a return to the rule of law and prioritizes environmental protection, keeping our waters clean without running rough shod over the Clean Water Act and our economy. I look forward to working with my colleagues and EPA Administrator Pruitt to return to a balanced and statutorily based implementation of our environmental laws,” Sullivan said.

The Alaska Republican posted with his comments a photo of himself, Republican colleagues and others smiling as Trump signed the order, directing the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to publish a proposed rule to revise or rescind the waters rule for notice and comment.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also released a statement commending Trump on the executive order.

“The Waters of the United States or ‘WOTUS’ rule is one of the most burdensome, overreaching rules imposed by the Obama administration—a regulation with such broad reach that it could be used to impact and delay almost any development project anywhere in Alaska,” Murkowski said.  “I am pleased the Trump administration has decided to review this rule. I urge the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to reach the same conclusion that many Alaskans already have: this rule needs to be dismantled, and replaced with a better, clearer and more targeted approach that recognizes proper limits on federal authority and preserves the proper role of the states in protecting our waters.”

In his comments during the signing of the WOTUS executive order, Trump said of WOTUS that the regulation was “one of the worst examples of federal regulation, and it has truly run amok, and is one of the rules most strongly opposed by farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers all across our land.  It’s prohibiting them from being allowed to do what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s been a disaster.

“With today’s executive order, I’m directing the EPA to take action, paving the way for the elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule,” said Trump, who continuously during his campaign criticized the water rule as another example of federal overreach.

Gina McCarthy, who served as the top EPA official under the Obama administration, said Trump’s action simply “continues to deny 117 million people in the U.S. of the comfort of knowing the waters they rely on for drinking water are not being protected.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council issued a statement saying that Trump has “signed away safeguards that protected streams from coal-mining waste earlier this month and today he signed an executive order that’s being called a ‘Dirty Water Rule’.

NRDC contends that the Clean Water Rule was finalized by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers in 2015 based on strong science, and noted that Trump’s new EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, had sued the EPA over the Clean Water Rule when he was the attorney general for Oklahoma.

“The health of our nation’s lakes, bays and coastal waters depend on clean streams and wetlands that flow into them, and Americans rely on these waterways to curb flooding, filter pollutants, and support fish and other wildlife,” NRDC said. “Trump’s latest executive order is nothing more than a gift to corporate polluters.”

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Margaret Bauman is a veteran Alaska journalist focused on covering fisheries and environmental issues. Bauman has been writing for The Cordova Times since 2010. You can reach her at mbauman@thecordovatimes.com.