U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt met with Alabama farmers in Bibb County July 6, promising changes to help them and small business owners 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 U.S. (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 the 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 Centreville.
U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., 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 the EPA to stop WOTUS.
Shelby County row crop farmer John DeLoach joined others 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 in Georgia July 7. He vowed to restore regulatory certainty.