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Trump administration moves to withdraw clean-water rule

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Many Missouri officials applauded Tuesday's announcement that the federal Environmental Protection Agency is rewriting the Obama Administration's "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rule.

"The controversial rule was a classic example of an overreach of government regulations that would have expanded regulations to essentially every Missouri body of water and stream, no matter how small," Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst said in a statement. "We also appreciate Gov. Greitens' comments to EPA asserting that the WOTUS rule was too broad an interpretation of law and that it should be redefined."

Greitens released a video celebrating the EPA's decision, saying: "When we took office, we asked our farmers and ranchers what we could do to fight for them. One of the things we heard is that they needed our help to push back against Obama's Waters of the U.S. regulations."

The governor said federal officials "heard us."

Missouri joined a dozen other states two years ago this week, launching a legal battle against the proposed EPA policy by challenging the rule in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for North Dakota.

Then-Attorney General Chris Koster said, in a June 2015 news release: "There is a growing public perception that the EPA is acting without accountability when making decisions that adversely impact our state's economy. Missouri will continue to hold the EPA accountable and protect Missouri's growing economy."

Current Attorney General Josh Hawley said Tuesday: "We fought this rule vigorously in court, and now it is gone. I applaud the EPA for finally putting this unconstitutional, Obama-era regulation to rest. It is time we started protecting the farmers and ranchers who feed our families — and the world."

Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt said: "The WOTUS rule was an egregious Washington power grab that would have made it impossible for the men and women who drive our state's economy, especially in the agriculture sector, to do their jobs.

"I couldn't be more happy to see it go. I look forward to continuing to work with the administration to roll back excessive, burdensome red tape that drives up costs and hurts Missouri families."

Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill also opposed the EPA plan, noting she has worked consistently in the Senate to roll back unreasonable federal rules and regulations.

"That's why I opposed this rule from the Obama Administration — which, while keeping our waters free of pollution is a goal we all support, went too far for our farmers, ranchers and landowners," McCaskill said in a news release, "and why I agree with President Trump that it's time to repeal it."

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, said the EPA decision was "a victory for Missourians" and called the EPA's proposal "the largest land grab in American history, and one of the most egregious regulations stemming from the Obama Administration."

Luetkemeyer said the announcement "is a huge step in the right direction in returning power back to the states, and providing regulatory certainty to our nation's farmers."

U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, called the EPA decision "a huge win for Missouri farmers, builders, businesses, land owners, and local governments."

Hartzler explained: "For the past two years, Missourians have been faced with regulatory uncertainty from the flawed 'Waters of the United States' rule that would put 99 percent of Missouri land under federal jurisdiction. A more balanced approach and long-term certainty (are) needed to balance local, state, and federal control over property and water rights across the country."

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