President Trump Reverses President Obama’s Order on WOTUS
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order reversing President Barack Obama's executive order on Waters of the United States, or WOTUS. This controversy dates back to the Clean Water Act passed by Congress and signed by the president in the 1970s. The Clean Water Act gave the authority or power to the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to regulate navigable waters. Navigable waters for decades meant waters such as the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri or other large rivers used for transportation.
Obama's executive order in 2015 changed the words "navigable waters" to "Waters of the United States." This extended the Environmental Protection Agency's power to small streams, wetlands, drainage ditches and even a pothole on the back 40 that has water for a few days after a heavy rain. The American Farm Bureau Federation has led the legal fight over WOTUS, claiming it puts an undue burden on farmers. It may have ended up that I would have had to apply for a federal permit to use fertilizer or spray a herbicide to control weeds.
Obama's executive order was blocked by the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit because of lawsuits against it, so the order was on hold anyway. However, I am not convinced that Trump's executive order will end the issue. I suspect there will be more lawsuits filed by environmental groups that will be in the courts for years.