SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Critics and supporters of a new executive order from President Trump agree it could have a big impact on Missouri.
Earlier this week, the President signed an executive order aimed at rolling back regulations tied to the “Water of the United States Rule.”
The rule was pushed through by the Obama administration, and was designed to give the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers more control over small bodies of water across the country.
“We believe those tributaries need to be protected because those tributaries feed the large water bodies,” says Jennifer Conner of the Sierra Club’s Springfield Chapter, “and the larger rivers then feed the lakes.”
Environmentalists like Conner say the additional protection extends to people, especially those living on the “Show Me State’s” karst topography.
“Any water on the surface can easily make its way into the ground water,” she says, “which is where a lot of Missourians get their drinking water.”
But opponents to new regulations believed they went too far.
Missouri’s Lieutenant Governor, Mike Parson, says the rule from the previous administration would give the government control over every puddle and ditch on private land.
“Just say you’ve got a ditch somewhere, a small ditch down by a highway, are you going to need the federal government to give you permission to put a tin whistle or a culvert in?” he says.
Parson believes such examples could have a devastating impact on Missouri’s agriculture.
He also says local agencies, like the Department of Natural Resources, have the best understanding of how to protect the state’s waterways.
“I’m not for sure what business, if you have a stream of water running off a piece of land and it’s not causing any damage whatsoever… why all the sudden we want to give up that right to private property to the federal government?” Parson says.
“I haven’t seen any specific research or numbers that show exactly how exactly that is going to affect farmers,” Conner says.
The EPA said the rules would not add economic burdens to farmers and ranchers, but EPA brass admitted the rollout of the rules could have been communicated more clearly.
Now the organization, with the help of the USACE, is tasked with re-examining those rules, with many believing they will be dismantled altogether.