Trump ‘looking very hard’ for farmer to lead EPA

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, October 3, 2016

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wants a farmer or rancher to be his U.S. EPA administrator, according to the campaign’s co-chairman and policy adviser.

Trump is “looking very hard” for someone with a background in agriculture to lead the agency, Sam Clovis said on the syndicated radio show “AgriTalk.”

“Where the Environmental Protection Agency impacts us the most is right at that nexus between agriculture and the environment,” Clovis said in an interview posted online yesterday.

If he’s elected, Trump would impose a moratorium on rulemaking and order agencies to report within 30 days on rules written in the past five years — including the Obama administration’s contentious Clean Water Rule, which aims to clarify what wetlands and waterways get automatic Clean Water Act protection, Clovis said.

A Trump White House would review those rules and prioritize the ones they consider most important, a process Clovis expects will lead to an “immediate” 20 percent reduction in regulations.

Clovis, a radio talk host, made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination in the five-way race for Iowa’s open Senate seat in 2014. Joni Ernst won the primary handily.

The Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS, is on hold and being litigated in federal court. Agriculture and industry organizations say the rule infringes on private and state rights.

“The president of the United States can go in and tell the EPA director to eliminate the Waters of the U.S. rule,” Clovis said. “We will put that relief on our farmers and ranchers because we think the Waters of the U.S. is an enormous overreach and it needs to be eliminated.”

Trump said last year he would cut EPA out of his administration. Republicans adopted a platform at their national convention in July that states that EPA should remain but be run as an independent bipartisan commission similar to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Greenwire, July 19).

Clovis’ comments come as attorneys in the Clean Water Rule case prepare to file briefs challenging the merits of the water rule in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Legal wrangling over the rule is expected to drag well into the next president’s term. The court arguments to date have focused on what is the proper venue — local district courts or federal appellate courts — for the litigation.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the deadline for filing the Clean Water Rule’s merits briefs was today. The deadline was originally set for today, but the court ruled last week to put the briefing schedule on hold.