July 07, 2017
By Debra Davis
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell, left, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, R-Alabama, at a farmer meeting in Bibb County.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt met with Alabama farmers in Bibb County Thursday promising changes to help them and small businesses plagued by regulatory overreach.
“The future ain’t what it used to be,” Pruitt said, quoting baseball legend Yogi Berra. “Much of the actions taken by EPA, especially those regarding the Waters of the US (WOTUS) regulations, were not what Congress intended.”
Pruitt said his office has begun the process of rescinding the WOTUS rule and will end an era of the EPA overreaching its bounds.
The WOTUS rule was finalized in August 2015 by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That policy allowed EPA and the Corps to regulate any or all waters found within a state, no matter how small or seemingly unconnected to a federal interest.
“The EPA, over the last several years, has been paternalistic, oppressive and coercive in trying to tell people in Alabama how to do their jobs,” Pruitt said. “Those days are over. The regulatory assault is over.”
Pruitt’s remarks drew applause from about 50 farmers and agriculture industry leaders gathered at Chip Burkes’ Brentwood Farms near Centerville.
U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, R-Alabama, introduced Pruitt at the meeting. He described Pruitt as a friend who shares common values and uses common sense toward environmental regulations.
“We can have clean water and clean air, which we demand and which people in agriculture care more than anyone about, and we don’t have to hamstring our economy,” Strange said. As Alabama’s former attorney general, Strange joined several other states’ attorneys general in suing EPA to stop WOTUS.
Shelby County row crop farmer John DeLoach joined farmers at the meeting in thanking Pruitt and Strange for protecting farmers.
“I agree with their position on WOTUS,” DeLoach said. “If that rule is left in place, it could put most American farmers out of business. A farmer’s biggest asset is our legacy we leave for future generations. We strive hard to protect our land and water.”
Pruitt’s “Back-to-Basics positive environmental agenda” also included stops Friday in Georgia. He vowed to restore regulatory certainty.
“We can be about growth and jobs and be good stewards of our environment,” Pruitt said.
Click here for more photos of Pruitt's visit.