A majority of Americans say President Donald Trump’s administration should work with Congress and local businesses to rewrite a former President Barack Obama-era “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, according to polling.
Morning Consult pollsters found that not only do most Americans see WOTUS as an example of government overreach, 58 percent agree the regulation “should be rewritten to provide a clear definition of navigable waters within limits set by Congress,” according to a polling report provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“An overwhelming majority (71%) say EPA should work with Congress and local business owners to draft a new rule that protects the environment and the economy,” Morning Consult pollsters wrote in a report for the Waters Advocacy Coalition.
The Waters Advocacy Coalition is made up of small businesses, farmers, ranchers and landowners opposed to the 2015 WOTUS rule. The group’s members are among those who bear the brunt of regulations on navigable waters.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began its repeal of WOTUS in July, fulfilling an executive order issued by President Donald Trump to rewrite the rule in a manner consistent with former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion in the 2006 Rapanos v. U.S. case.
The Obama administration argued the WOTUS rule was necessary to protect water quality and end the confusion over jurisdiction in the wake of two Supreme Court cases. Environmentalists echoed that view.
Republicans called the Obama administration’s WOTUS rule a “tyrannical power grab” that extended federal control over waters not traditionally regulated by the government. They also argued it did little to remove uncertainty in the law.
Thirty-two states filed suit against the Obama administration — EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt joined the suit while attorney general of Oklahoma. A federal judge in North Dakota issued a stay against WOTUS in August 2015, suggesting there could be legal issues with the rule.
Morning Consult polling suggests most Americans support EPA’s rewriting the 2015 WOTUS rule, and polling found that a majority of Americans trusted state and local governments more than EPA in regulating water quality.
“Voters trust farmers, ranchers and small business owners more than environmental groups or the EPA to act in best interest of the American people,” Morning Consult wrote in their report.
Polling also found that nearly half of Americans, 46 percent, thought environmental activists were “dishonest” in their attempts to paint WOTUS opponents, including farmers and ranchers, as “in favor of dirty or contaminated water.”
EPA is expected to reveal its proposal to revise WOTUS in December. The final rule is expected to be released sometime in 2018.
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