Agribusinesses will no longer be restricted from moving certain types of water on their private property after the Trump administration decided to lift federal protection of streams and wetlands.
President Donald Trump confirmed the Waters of the United States Rule, which the previous Barack Obama administration approved back in 2015, has been terminated. All bodies of water will no longer fall under U.S. federal jurisdiction and be enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“This rule gave bureaucrats virtually unlimited authority to regulate stock tanks, drainage ditches, and isolated ponds as navigable waterways and navigable water,” the president told the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention and Trade Show in Austin, Texas, on Jan. 19.
President Trump gave one extreme example where a small puddle on a farm was considered to be a protected lake under the rule.
“[It really was] one of the most ridiculous regulations of all,” he said. “They really took away your property and they took away your property rights.”
The president promised termination of the rule would restore power to farmers and let them decide how to run their agribusiness.
“As long as I am president, [the federal] government will never micromanage America’s farmers,” he said. “You are going to micromanage your own farm and that is the way it should be.”
To help better protect the water entitlements of farmers and ranchers, the Trump administration has instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the proposed Water Supply rule, which gives the federal government “vast and unlimited power” to restrict farm access to water.
“This authority rightfully belongs to the states, not the bureaucrats in Washington,” the president said. “States [should be able] to manage their water resources based on their own needs and based on what their farmers and ranchers want. Water is the lifeblood of agriculture and we will always protect your water supply.”
The president separately clarified his position on whether climate change is a hoax.
“I think aspects of it [climate change] are,” he said at a press conference during the World Economic Forum 2020 in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 22. “I think that some people are—they put it at a level that is, you know, unrealistic, to a point you cannot live your lives.”
He also reaffirmed the U.S. government’s commitment to maintaining a “clean” and “beautiful” environment.
“We want to have the cleanest water on Earth, we want to have the cleanest air on Earth,” he said. “We are doing better right now than we have ever done, in terms of cleanliness, in terms of numbers.”
The president suggested environmental activist Greta Thunberg should focus her efforts on those countries that abuse the environment much more.
“When we are clean and beautiful and everything is good but you have another continent where the fumes are rising at levels that you cannot believe–I mean, I think Greta ought to focus on those places,” he said. “We have a beautiful ocean called the Pacific Ocean, where thousands and thousands of tons of garbage flows toward us, and that is put there by other countries, so I think Greta has to start working on those other countries.”