President Trump Begins the Process to Remove WOTUS

New Executive Order to Review Controversial Rule

Published Wednesday, March 1, 2017
by Brad D. Steele, Esq.

On February 28, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) that has been long sought-after by the private club industry. The EO, entitled Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) Rule, will provide the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the ability to rescind or revise the WOTUS rule.

Under the EO, the president wants to ensure that the nation’s navigable waters are “kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles played by Congress and the States under the Constitution.” This policy is now the guiding factor for EPA as it goes about reviewing the rule. Most importantly, this EO will allow the EPA to rewrite the rule that requires clubs to first secure EPA permits before using chemicals and fertilizers that might run-off into brooks, ponds or streams on the club’s property.

In addition, the EO directs the EPA Administrator to use former Justice Antonin Scalia’s definition of the term “navigable waters” from a 2006 Supreme Court case when establishing the new rule. Justice Scalia’s definition is a more limited determination of what should be covered under the Clean Water Act.

It also directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to notify all federal courts where cases are pending involving the WOTUS Rule that this review is taking place. Thus, DOJ will make clear that the federal government will no longer defend this rule in court against claims that the government went too far when it issued the rule.

In the end, this EO will let EPA remove a regulation from the books that NCA and our allies fought hard to keep from being enforced. It is a strong first step to ensuring club leaders will not be required to spend time, resources and energy worrying about what they may or may not place on their courses.

As EPA begins its review and re-crafting of the rule, NCA will be there to provide the private club industry’s perspective to ensure waters stay safe while our industry is not overly burdened by overreaching federal regulations.

If you have any questions on this matter, please contact NCA Vice President of Government Relations & General Counsel Brad Steele at 202-822-9822.

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