Irvine, Calif., (March 2, 2017) – In response to President Trump’s executive order regarding the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule released during former President Obama’s administration, Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif issued the following statement:
The health of our nation’s water is of paramount importance to Western Growers and its 2,500 members who grow more than half of the country’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts. Our collective livelihoods depend on the abundant availability of clean water, which has been protected over the years by the reasonable application of the Clean Water Act.
However, we believe the 2015 WOTUS rule exceeded the federal government’s jurisdiction as defined by Congress in the Act, which only intended to give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority over navigable waterways affecting interstate commerce. Indeed, this interpretation has been confirmed by the Supreme Court in Rapanos v. United States.
We are pleased with President Trump’s executive order directing the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to formally reconsider WOTUS. While we recognize this order will not immediately repeal the rule, it will provide adequate space for these federal agencies to engage state and local governments to craft an alternative solution that both fits within the boundaries prescribed in the Act and serves the best interests of the environment and key stakeholders. “More importantly, we believe the order should spur Congress toward much-needed legislation clarifying the reach and extent of federal jurisdiction under the Act. Since the Rapanos decision, there has been significant inconsistency in interpretation and application of the Act, which has resulted in harmful unintended economic consequences for landowners. After decades of inactivity, we call on Congress to enact legislation defining the limits of the Clean Water Act.