NAHB Applauds Trump as WOTUS Rollback Begins

Filed in Capitol Hill, Codes and Regulations, Environmental by on February 28, 2017 16 Comments

Granger MacDonald (far left) listens as President Trump announces the WOTUS executive order.

As NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald looked on, President Donald Trump today honored a campaign promise made to home builders and signed an executive order directing EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin the process of rescinding or revising the controversial “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.

“NAHB commends President Trump for listening to our serious concerns about the flawed WOTUS rule that goes so far as to regulate man-made ditches and isolated ponds on private property,” said MacDonald before the signing ceremony. “This is an important first step towards fixing the flawed regulation and working towards a more sensible WOTUS rulemaking.”

Speaking at the NAHB Board of Directors meeting in Miami last August, Trump vowed to cut burdensome regulations, including the new WOTUS definitions, that drive up the cost of homes for hard-working Americans.

“No one other than the energy industry is regulated more than the home building industry,” Trump said during the Miami meeting. “Twenty-five percent of the cost of a home is due to regulation,” he noted, quoting a 2016 NAHB study.

NAHB has led the effort to address industry concerns with the 2015 rule on the regulatory, legislative and judicial fronts. The rule also has been legally challenged by more than 30 states and environmentalists on both procedural and substantive grounds.

The executive order provides EPA and the Corps direction to rework the rule that dramatically extended the areas in which home builders are required to get permits, blatantly usurping state and local regulatory authority. Two courts have already ruled that there is a likelihood that the rule is illegal and have issued a temporary halt.

“NAHB looks forward to working with the Administration, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, when approved, to develop a common-sense solution to protecting our nation’s waterways while taking into account the interests of local businesses and communities nationwide,” MacDonald said.

For additional information about the WOTUS rule, contact Owen McDonough at 800-368-5242 x8662.

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Comments (16)

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  1. Laurie Dickeson says:

    The statement ” The rule also has been legally challenged by more than 30 states and environmentalists on” is misleading. Concern from environmentalists was that the rule didn’t go far enough–that it was too weak. As an architect, I’m sorry to see that the NAHB places so little value on environmental issues.

    • NAHB Now says:

      Thank you for writing, Laurie. NAHB members care about the environment too – after all, they live in the communities where they do business. In the case of these new WOTUS definitions, stakeholders with many different points of view all agreed that the process was not as transparent as it could have been and that not everyone had an opportunity to comment.

      • Ellery esposito says:

        The new practice of using field advisories to go around the process of posting on the federal register for new rules that would not make it is another example of an out of control agency. They can not get the core to go. Along with some of their crazy science

  2. This is terrible news. I’m so sad to see my NAHB supporting the pollution of our nation’s waterways. Allowing soil to erode into streams and runoff to flow unchecked across streets increases municipal water treatment costs, means I can no longer eat the fish I catch, keeps our children from swimming in our lakes, and will make life more expensive in the future. I don’t want to live in or sell homes in a community that’s polluted for the sake of lower housing costs. I’m afraid we will create low cost housing today in exchange for future catastrophes in the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes, and our freshwater trout streams…. not to mention how this hurts the economies of our bay fishing communities. This is not a good move for our nation’s housing. I’m shocked and disappointed that NAHB supports water pollution.

    • NAHB Now says:

      Thanks for writing, Ritchie. You’d be hard-pressed to find any NAHB member who doesn’t want clean water for all the reason you mention. But NAHB also doesn’t want further federal overreach on states and localities that already have strong regulations in place.

    • S. Jones says:

      Ritchie,
      I would encourage you to read the proposed rule and understand it’s impact before jumping to the conclusion that NAHB is supporting pollution. The original rule protects our nation’s waterways and is responsible for major clean-up efforts around the country in our rivers, bays and sounds. The new rule extends the Federal Government’s authority to regulate irrigation ditches, man-made storm water swales and potentially storm water pipe networks (depending on your interpretation of the rule). The big concern is not so much that “we” don’t want to protect these things is they deserve protection, but rather that the regulation for such local assets should be regulated locally. By way of example, I have a project whereby a road improvement (not even on the development) required increasing a wetland impact by 0.3 acres of an isolated wetland; the road has been in place for over 100 years. It took over two years and over $100,000 in “studies” for the COE to determine they don’t have jurisdiction (under the current rule, they certainly would under the proposed rule) of this particular wetland. So, now we can begin the process of obtaining state and county permits to complete the project (which is required by the County as traffic mitigation). Our proposal is the construct a open bottom culvert ($400,000) so the two nodes of the wetland can be hydraulically connected for the first time in 100 years, the COE’s initial request was to build a bridge with limited piers at a cost of $10,000,000. Is this really the appropriate level of regulation for our Federal Government?

      • I fully understand the individual builder costs shouldered by federal clean water and other environmental regulatory costs; I currently represent 2 brand new single-family subdivisions, and our building and sales are both held up by the huge increase in our water quality development costs. But water quality is not a local issue, so it should not be locally regulated. My city is located near the headwaters of several river systems, so we have some amazingly clean water around here, and it is easy to argue that we don’t need to do much locally about water quality in many areas. When we pollute, we’re making the community worse for our downstream neighbors like Washington DC and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay. If we leave regulation to my county, then who’s watching out for water quality in DC, Fairfax, or communities on the Northern Neck? That’s unquestionably a national (cross-state) issue, not a local problem.

  3. Patty E Doyle says:

    A sad commentary on NAHB’s concern for our environment. It is unfortunate that you do NOT place value on significant environmental issues.

  4. joe Mistich says:

    The problem is not with theLand owners, Home Builders, Architects nor with the government agencies that carry out the land use regulations that local planning and zonning members create. The problem is the planning and zoing process used in this country, the APA is a sellout organization with the largest overreach of any non publicly voted group of citizens placed into power in our country by elected officials. The APA has played middle man for manny years concerning land use and land owner negotiations. Land should be zonned by its context/topography not by pressure of community political or personnal need. If a person ownes land he or she should be able to develop or use the land according to the natural context the land exist in. If land was zonned based on the topography and not ecomonic need or political pressure than humans could co-exist in and reduce adverse impacts on critical and sensitive habitats. By zonning land in the manner described society should compansate the land owner for the need to protect.

  5. Ron Ramirez says:

    This is very good for our industry. We are pleased to see that there is directive to make sure that the regulations make sense and do not over-reach. No one wants destruction and disregard for our natural resources. However, regulations should be reasonable so that it can be a win-win. Make it easier for development to occur and you just may see that most developers will include environmental and sustainable features in their projects.

    Lastly, we encourage everyone to read the rules in question FIRST before asserting an opinion that developers and builders have negative view of the environment. That is simply not true. Please do not rely on headlines and talking points from the media to base an opinion. Engineers, of all professions, should know to gather your “givens” and then deal with the facts.

  6. Don says:

    Wow! I can’t understand those who don’t read the whole rule and understand the overreach and the problem with Federal overreach. Also that those of you that think we who care about overreach don”t care about the environment! Government overreach and the problem of it is nothing new to history and is the simplified reason this country was created. But you know that, right?

  7. The real issue here is that of extraction. The NAHB, and the vast majority of contractors around the nation are concerned that the Waters of the US laws would be used to extract large amount of resources (time, effort and money) from all across the US into the coffers of the Federal Government, through permits, fees, citations, penalties, studies, etc. that serve to promote job security for bureaucrats rather than sound environmental policy.

  8. Jim Wright says:

    As a homebuilder, we concur. The EPA and it’s states which it rules, has added unnecessary expense to the cost of constructing homes which has been passed to the homeowners as well as extending the construction times. Furthermore, unnecessary administrated cost has been added to our overhead cost to manage the bureaucratic red tape. The homebuilding industry has minimal effect on our country’s water supply but the industry incurs excessive and unnecessary expenses, and frivolous fines.

  9. Mike Woelke says:

    As is with most complex issues, both sides are right and both sides are wrong. responsible development should result in a net zero change to historic storm water flows. we need to educate regional planners about alternative options for storm water management. big concrete pipes up stream make no sense if you are just going to dump those flows back into natural river beds and drainages that cannot handle the scouring process. decentralized management practices like rain gardens, rain water collection, permeable pavement and vegetative swales make sense. in older cities and areas where storm water management practices were non-existent, this order opens the door for the development of regional facilities for storm water detention and water quality in the tributary flows. the WOTUS rule precluded the treatment or detention of any flow in the smallest creek or drainage ditch. over regulating developers who are developing infill projects in cites with thousand of square miles of defective storm water management may be cost effective but it is not solution effective.

  10. Mike Woelke says:

    storm water management is complicated by water rights issues. if i pave a parking lot and it sheds water off of it that historically entered the ground water tables, who owns that water? does the down stream water rights holder own it? Do the local well permit holders? my opinion is the later and what we should be doing is cleaning it of contaminants and putting it back where it went historically and i can’t think of a better way to do that than irrigating with it.
    if common sense and local regulation conflict, let’s rollback the regulation.

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