As he repeals water regulation, Pres. Trump's EPA leader gets feedback in SC

As he repeals water regulation, Pres. Trump's EPA leader gets feedback in SC

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Growing sod is Jim Roquemore's specialty. From his home base in Orangeburg County, he ships sod across the Southeast.

But, for the past few years, Roquemore worried about a new rule that could impact that – a rule introduced by the Obama Administration called Waters of the U.S. that would more strictly regulate smaller bodies of water like small ponds, drainage ditches, and streams.

They're bodies of water that are sometimes dry. Titan Farms is the largest peach-growing from in the Southeast.

Titan Farms CEO  Chalmers Carr, of Ridge Spring, feared an impact too.

"I was definitely worried. This is something, besides immigration, my most important thing, Waters of the U.S. became high on the radar when this rule passed," Carr said.

"The federal government broadened the definition to basically take a puddle on your farm and could say that was a navigable water, and they have the rights to permit that," he said. "If you had an area that you wanted to drain on your farm to get the water off to farm your crops, you might not be able to dig that drainage ditch in there."

On Monday morning, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, heard from Carr, Roquemore, and others when he joined South Carolina farmers and business leaders to talk about that rule – a rule he's repealing.

He was joined by politicians like Sen. Lindsey Graham who said the rule was did nothing more than cause confusion and uncertainty. However, Scott Pruitt said the repeal won't be a heyday for polluters. And those in the room agreed.

"We take care of the land. Every farmer I know takes care of the land. Why wouldn't they? So to suppose that's not the case just doesn't make much sense to me," said Roquemore.

However, multiple environmental groups have a different take.

"You can't protect Lake Murray or the Congaree or Saluda Rivers without protecting the streams and wetlands that flow into them," wrote the South Environmental Law Center in a statement to WIS. "Pollution and water both run downstream – if you declare open season on our source waters, you can kiss clean water goodbye."

WIS also heard from Bill Stangler, the Congaree Riverkeeper.

"The Clean Water Rule was an important effort to protect the streams & wetlands that so many communities depend on," he wrote. "The attempt by the Trump Administration & EPA Administrator Pruitt to rescind the rule and remove protections from waterways is shortsighted and irresponsible."

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