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EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt Holds WOTUS Listening Sessions

July 28, 2017

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt addresses more than 100 attendees at a Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) listening session.

OKLAHOMA CITY – EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with federal and state elected officials, agriculture leaders and rural electric cooperative leaders today to gather feedback on the repeal and clarification of the 2015 Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS).

The Trump administration issued an executive order to revise or rescind the 2015 WOTUS rule in Febrary of 2017. According to the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (NRECA), the 2015 rule was stayed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and never implemented.  The nation’s waters continue to be protected under the rules in place before 2015, which require co-ops to obtain Army Corps of Engineers permits in instances in which power lines cross navigable waters.

Administrator Pruitt is making efforts to clarify this rule by conducting feedback sessions and hearing people’s concerns regarding the rule. The administrator has visited more than 15 states, and he appeared for a listening session in Guymon, Oklahoma on Thursday, July 27. 

More than 100 agriculture and rural electric cooperative leaders attended the town hall meeting Friday, July 28 at the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives’ Conference Center.

Administrator Pruitt laid out a three-pronged litmus test for clarifying a new WOTUS Rule. The tests he described are as follows:
• It must follow the rule of law
• Process matters. Listen, learn and then respond.
• It must incorporate cooperative federalism. The roles of states, industry and landowners must be considered.

Pruitt added we must also start from a position of partnership.

Roy Lee Lindsey, executive director of the Oklahoma Pork Council, stated, “If it’s ground that’s farmed, we don’t think it’s a navigable waterway. If it’s man-made drainage, we put that in place to move water around our property, so it shouldn’t be covered. We think those are pretty simple and clear. If you’re grazing cattle on your land, that grazing land shouldn’t be covered.”

Terry Detrick, president of American Farmers and Ranchers Insurance in Oklahoma, asserted, “We strongly oppose land grabs by the federal government. You are making Oklahomans proud by rescinding this ruling.”

Karl Jett, member of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, said, “We have state agencies in place already. We don’t need federal intervention.”

Administrator Pruitt pointed out that navigability was a key provision in the original WOTUS rules. His goal is to provide a clear and durable definition of what does and does not constitute WOTUS navigable waterways.

In his closing comments, OAEC General Manager Chris Meyers stated, “Our electric cooperatives in Oklahoma own and maintain nearly twice as much distribution powerline as OG&E, PSO and the municipal electric sytems combined. The Waters of the U.S. Rule has had a negative impact on our cooperatives and the customers they serve. We appreciate the work being done by Administrator Pruitt on our behalf and of those we serve.”
For questions, contact Sid Sperry, Director of Public Relations, Communications & Research, at 405-627-7754 or sksperry@oaec.coop.
The Oklahoma Asssociation of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) is a statewide association created and voluntarily supported by local electric distribution and generation/transmission cooperatives. To learn more, visit www.oaec.coop.