EPA’s final WOTUS-replacement rule is being well-received by farm interests. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association was one of many farm and industry groups that strongly opposed the original 2015 Obama era Waters of the U.S. Rule for its broad reach in exerting federal control.
“Even if it was something that was dry most of the year, but then got rained on, and because of that rain it conveyed water downstream to something else, that would pull our guys under EPA’s jurisdiction,” said NCBA Environmental Counsel Scott Yager.
He added the WOTUS-replacement, billed the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, will boost clarity in what farm and ranch features are federally versus state and locally controlled.
“We’re happy about it; we think it’s a strong step in the right direction to correct the overreach of that 2015 Obama rule. And it will provide clarity to our members, as well as features that are out in our pastureland, because they’re no longer going to be under federal jurisdiction.”
That means moving forward stock ponds, ditches, prior converted cropland and groundwater are no longer under federal jurisdiction. But Yager says a federal judge could issue an injunction, forcing a reversion to the original 2015 WOTUS rule.
Click Here to read the entire text of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.
You can read reaction from across the Northwest and across farm country below:
The American Farm Bureau said the replacement rule provides “clarity and certainty,” allowing farmers to farm, without having to “hire teams of consultants and lawyers.”
“This rule provides clarity and consistency for landowners affected by the scope of WOTUS jurisdiction,” said ranking House Ag Committee member Michael Conaway. “Our nation’s navigable waters will remain well-protected, while farmers and ranchers will no longer be subjected to ambiguous guidelines and regulatory uncertainty. I applaud the Trump Administration’s dedication to getting this rule right, and look forward to finally ending decades of federal overreach on WOTUS.”
“This unprecedented rule will destroy more clean water protections than any other single act in American history,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee. “Without a doubt, it is among the most flagrant steps taken by the Trump administration in their all-out assault on the environment and the Clean Water Act.
“Today’s action will decimate federal protections for more than half the nation’s wetlands and hundreds of thousands of miles of streams — protections that have been in place for decades, under both Republican and Democratic administrations. By allowing unfettered corporate pollution in our waters, EPA is willfully threatening the healthy waters necessary for thriving communities, fish and wildlife habitat, and our vital outdoor recreation economy.
“As with so many other actions, we know these impacts will be felt disproportionately by those already struggling with access to clean water. We demand better for our low-income and marginalized communities of color.
“Washington will not stand idly by as the Trump administration eviscerates critical protections for our natural resources and everything we hold dear,” Inslee continued. “We are reviewing the final rule now and exploring all options to protect clean water for all Washingtonians.”
For years, farmers and ranchers across Oregon have expressed their concerns to me about the heavy-handed Obama-era definition of WOTUS,” said eastern Oregon representative Greg Walden. “They stressed that their intermittent stream or irrigation ditch would be subject to the burden of overreaching federal regulation. The EPA’s new definition of WOTUS will both protect our environment and our rural communities. Today’s announcement is welcome news for rural Oregon. I applaud President Trump and his administration for listening to the concerns of America’s farmers and ranchers and delivering on the promise to revise WOTUS.”
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