Salt Lake City, Utah- (ABC4 Utah) – The head of the Environmental Protection Agency makes a stop in Utah. Administrator Scott Pruitt is here as part of the process to repeal a water rule put in place by the Obama Administration.
Pruitt is embarking on a national tour to meet face to face with local leaders. He wants to hear how the rule is impacting our state.
By executive order, President Donald Trump charged Pruitt with reviewing the Waters of the United States, or WOTUS rule.
The rule expanded federal authority over bodies of water in our country. Pruitt says it went too far in giving the EPA authority over puddles, dry creek beds and drainage ditches.
“We are getting rid of the bad rule. And then, we are looking forward to say how do we define the water of the United States to give clarity to folks across the country, and to make sure states are treated as partners as we work together to protect water quality,” Pruitt said.
He’s building that partnership through the States Action Tour.
First stop? Utah, where he’s meeting with Governor Gary Herbert, Attorney General Sean Reyes and other state officials.
Utah Senator Mike Lee says the EPA has abused the rule.
“It’s come as a great shock to a lot of people that you can actually end up getting fined, by the EPA up to $75,000 a day for undertaking routine activities on your own land,” said Lee, (R) Utah.
Lee applauds Pruitt’s approach to revamp the rule, and build stronger partnerships at the state level.
He says federal regulators should always defer to the state.
“State regulators know their own territory, they know their own land, their own population, what does and what doesn’t work,” Lee said.
Zach Frankel with the Utah Rivers Council is terrified by the approach.
“What Flint, Michigan teaches us is what happens when a state is left to protect it’s water quality. People get sick, and hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars will be wasted cleaning up pollution mistakes,” said Frankel.
He says gutting the WOTUS rule would have a long lasting impact.
“We need to make sure that the waters of the United States are protected and clean for future generations.”
Pruitt insists that is a priority, and promises a new way forward.
“This pro-growth, pro-environment message is absolutely achievable. It was the past Administration that said we had to choose between those two, that’s not the approach President Trump is taking. We are choosing both growth, and jobs and protecting the environment,” said Pruitt.
Pruitt also stopped by a ranch in Park City, Utah where he got feedback from local landowners.