The new head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, is wasting no time advancing President Trump’s regulatory reform initiative. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced in February their intent to “review and rescind or revise” the Clean Water Rule, also known as “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS). As the process unfolds, interested citizens and advocacy groups will weigh in for or against change. Farm Bureau was on the front line in opposition to WOTUS and enthusiastically supports this move.
But, roadblocks are likely, so fasten your seat belt … it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
This month Administrator Pruitt launched a comprehensive review of EPA regulations. Making the announcement to a crowd of Pennsylvania coal miners prior to his visit to Missouri, he said the “Back-to-Basics” plan will return EPA to its core mission “protecting the environment by engaging with state, local and tribal partners to create sensible regulations that enhance economic growth.”
In a visit to the Thomas Hill Energy Center in Clifton Hill, Mo., Pruitt reiterated those sentiments. The choice between jobs and growth and the environment is a false choice, he said. The EPA can be pro-growth and pro-environment.
In addition to hosting public meetings as the comprehensive review gets underway, EPA is soliciting public comments on regulations that “may be appropriate for repeal, replacement or modification.”
Public comment is an important part of the regulatory process. Everyone has an opportunity to be heard, whether it’s a few words or lengthy analysis. Virtually all 100+ comments posted the first few days after the announcement were brief, anonymous and defensive. Nevertheless, they’re all part of the official public record documenting the agency’s path forward.
Regulatory reform won’t just happen. Missouri Farm Bureau members sent more than 7,300 comments to the EPA during the WOTUS public comment period in 2014. So for policymakers and citizens alike, public participation is key to the process. Regardless of which side you’re on, there may be bumps in the road, but at least we’re headed in the right direction.