LITTLE ROCK — Several Arkansas officials applauded news Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to rescind a regulation from former President Barack Obama’s administration to increase the agency’s regulatory authority over small waterways.
Arkansas was one of several states that sued to block the “waters of the United States” rule, arguing that the EPA was exceeding its authority. A federal court in Cincinnati blocked implementation of the rule in October 2015 while the litigation proceeded.
“Arkansas is a state that supports clean water and has taken great strides to protect and enhance our natural environment,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement.
“As communicated in my recent letter to Administrator (Scott) Pruitt, I support clear and efficient regulations and a more balanced partnership with the states. I commend the EPA, Administrator Pruitt, and the Army Corps of Engineers for withdrawing the burdensome requirements and federal overreach of the 2015 Clean Water Rule,” he said.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in a statement, “The full rescindment of this unlawful rule is a big win for Arkansas landowners. WOTUS has been enjoined because of the work of attorneys general, and today’s action shows a clear signal that the EPA is returning to its core mission.”
Sen. John Boozman said, “I applaud the Trump administration for the withdrawal of this overreaching and burdensome rule and returning power to private citizens. This is a win for Arkansas homeowners, small businesses and family farmers who will regain control from Washington of decisions on how to best use their land.”
Sen. Tom Cotton called the announcement “a wise move — and much overdue.”
“Arkansans should make their own decisions about their own farmland — as they have for generations — without the EPA looking over their shoulders. Rescinding this rule will do a lot to restore trust between rural America and the EPA, and I commend the president for taking this step.”
Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs said, “I am happy that the administration has listened to the concerns of those most impacted by this egregious, unconstitutional overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency. The decision to withdraw the previous administration’s WOTUS rule is a win for private property rights and will have a positive impact on farmers, ranchers and other job creators.
Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers said, “This directive was nothing more than executive overreach, and would have caused inexplicable encroachment upon the property of our nation’s small businesses and farmers. I have fought against this dangerous policy since its introduction, and I applaud the executive branch for making this reversal a priority”
The Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. The chapter’s director, Glen Hooks, said in 2015, “The proposed rule clarifies not only which waters fall under federal jurisdiction, it also specifically states which ones do not. This will be helpful to everyone who engages with our nation’s waterways. Well-crafted environmental protections help everyone, and we are ill-served by an attorney general who reflexively opposes any and all attempts to protect our natural resources.”