Tuesday night, President Donald Trump gave his first address to Congress. Regardless of where you fall in line with support for the president, it’s important to keep in mind that every point is like a “zip file,” with a ton of information to unpack.
For those who watched, perhaps you tuned in hoping to support your president. Or, perhaps you tuned in, expecting to walk away with plenty of material to snark about Wednesday at work. Either way, you may or may not have been surprised to find a conventional speech that actually required fact checkers to work.
FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Foundation, is a good resource to turn to. And while the foundation is highly transparent, it should also be noted that William Annenberg owned a vast media enterprise including numerous magazines. When politicians got in the way of his business dealings, he wasn’t beyond using ink to take them down. It’s worth keeping in mind that even the fact checkers have positions, but as long as those positions are identified progress can be made.
The Wednesday report from FactCheck.org on Trump’s address to Congress refuted many of his claims, but also noted where he was right. One area noted as vague had to do with Trump’s desire to work with both sides of the aisle to “promote clean air and clean water” , which came hours after signing an executive order to roll back the 2015 Clean Water Rule.
Since that rule hits close to home, and was brought up by more than one panelist testifying about the 2018 Farm Bill at KSU last week, we’ll unpack it here.
The “Waters of the USA” definition, which in 2015 was broadened to include many non-permanent water holding depressions, has caused problems for farmers and ranchers and land developers, including some close to home, and so for those groups, the roll back is welcome. For others who value environmentalism and or who promote ecotourism, not so much. Essentially, the executive order defines the Trump administration’s policy.
“It is in the national interest to ensure that the Nation’s navigable waters are kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of the Congress and the States under the Constitution.”
It asks the EPA and the Army for Civil Works to review the Clean Water Rule WUSA definition to ensure it is consistent with the policy. And in future rulemaking, it asks the future definition of navigable waters be consistent with the opinion of Justice Antonin Scalia in a 2006 opinion. That opinion limits the federal jurisdiction over waters to only those that are relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water. Hopefully, this helps you to determine if you agree or not.
With each point there is a lot of information to unpack regardless of what your interests lie. If you haven’t got the time to do the unpacking yourself, at least put some thought into who you allow to unpack it for you. And if then, something really matters to you, share that with your legislators so they can represent your interests.