February 28, 2017-The White House-Roosevelt Room
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, everybody. We appreciate you being here. Thank you very much. First of all, I want to congratulate Scott Pruitt, who’s here someplace. Where’s Scott? (Applause.) So important. We’re going to free up our country, and it’s going be done in a very environmental and positive environmental way, I will tell you that, but create millions of jobs. So many jobs are delayed for so many years, and it’s unfair to everybody. So I want congratulate Scott.
I want to thank everyone for being here today. We have a great group of farmers, homebuilders, and county commissioners. They’re all represented. They’re standing alongside of me. I’d also like to thank Jim Inhofe, who’s been so terrific in so many different ways, beyond even this. So I want thank Jim and also the leadership in the Senate on the issue, a friend of mine — a great friend of mine — John Barrasso.
The EPA’s so-called “Waters of the United States” rule is one of the worst examples of federal regulation, and it has truly run amok, and is one of the rules most strongly opposed by farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers all across our land. It’s prohibiting them from being allowed to do what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s been a disaster.
The Clean Water Act says that the EPA can regulate “navigable waters” — meaning waters that truly affect interstate commerce. But a few years ago, the EPA decided that “navigable waters” can mean nearly every puddle or every ditch on a farmer’s land, or anyplace else that they decide — right? It was a massive power grab. The EPA’s regulators were putting people out of jobs by the hundreds of thousands, and regulations and permits started treating our wonderful small farmers and small businesses as if they were a major industrial polluter. They treated them horribly. Horribly.
If you want to build a new home, for example, you have to worry about getting hit with a huge fine if you fill in as much as a puddle — just a puddle — on your lot. I’ve seen it. In fact, when it was first shown to me, I said, no, you’re kidding aren’t you? But they weren’t kidding.
In one case in a Wyoming, a rancher was fined $37,000 a day by the EPA for digging a small watering hole for his cattle. His land. These abuses were, and are, why such incredible opposition to this rule from the hundreds of organizations took place in all 50 states. It’s a horrible, horrible rule. Has sort of a nice name, but everything else is bad. (Laughter.) I’ve been hearing about it for years and years. I didn’t know I’d necessarily be in this position to do something about it, but we’ve been hearing about it for years.
With today’s executive order, I’m directing the EPA to take action, paving the way for the elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule.
So I want to thank everybody for being here. And I will sign wherever I’m supposed to sign. There we are. Thank you very much.