On February 28, President Donald Trump signed an executive order titled: Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) Rule. The order will provide the Environmental Protection Agency with the ability to rewrite the rule, which requires clubs to first secure permits before using chemicals and fertilizers that might run off into brooks, ponds or streams.
On February 28, President Donald Trump signed an executive order, entitled Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) Rule, will provide the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the ability to rescind or revise the WOTUS rule, the National Club Association (NCA) reported.
Under the executive order, the president wants to ensure that the nation’s navigable waters are “kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles played by Congress and the States under the Constitution.”
This policy is now the guiding factor for EPA as it goes about reviewing the rule. Most importantly, this executive order will allow the EPA to rewrite the rule that requires clubs to first secure EPA permits before using chemicals and fertilizers that might run-off into brooks, ponds or streams on the club’s property, the NCA reported.
In addition, the executive order directs the EPA Administrator to use former Justice Antonin Scalia’s definition of the term “navigable waters” from a 2006 Supreme Court case when establishing the new rule. Justice Scalia’s definition is a more limited determination of what should be covered under the Clean Water Act, the NCA reported.
It also directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to notify all federal courts where cases are pending involving the WOTUS Rule that this review is taking place. Thus, DOJ will make clear that the federal government will no longer defend this rule in court against claims that the government went too far when it issued the rule, the NCA reported.
According to a report by Bloomberg, the order could cut Trump’s own costs as an owner of a dozen U.S. golf courses, again raising concerns about conflict of interest in the White House.
“I would say this is a very high priority to us,” said Bob Helland, head lobbyist for the 17,000-member Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. “We are pleased to see that there is an effort to revisit the rule under this executive order.”
The Trump Organization lists 17 golf courses among its properties, including 12 in the U.S. that probably would be subject to the rule. The golf industry, along with numerous business groups, has been trying to kill the rule since before President Barack Obama finalized it in June 2015. It has been under legal challenge and so far hasn’t been put into effect. Once it takes effect, it would raise costs for golf courses, Bloomberg reported.
Helland hasn’t met with members of the administration and cited lack of clarity about owners’ obligations under the rule. He noted the treatment of man-made water features as an area of concern, especially when, he said, the average golf course has 11 acres of water bodies, including lakes, ponds, wetlands and streams, Bloomberg reported.
Course owners weren’t alone in opposition: Groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Chevron Corp., the National Association of Home Builders and the National Mining Association all lobbied on the issue during the quarter when it was finalized, according to the filings, as part of broader lobbying efforts worth more than $60 million, Bloomberg reported.
In addition, dozens of states as well as business and agricultural groups challenged the rule in federal court. The administration will ask the court to cease consideration during the review, according to a White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Trump’s picks for his administration, especially EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, also have expressed broad opposition to several environmental regulations, Bloomberg reported.