The agriculture sectors are applauding the EPA’s move in late June to formally repeal the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. Rather than viewing the rule as an aid to ensure clean water, the industry saw it as burdensome and confusing—negatively impacting America’s businesses, farmers, and land owners. As a result, Scott Pruitt, EPA administrator, signed a proposed rule on June 27 to rescind the rule and re-codify the regulatory text defining “waters of the U.S.”
“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” said Pruitt. “This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine ‘waters of the U.S.’ and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent, and collaborative with other agencies and the public.”
Bill Kovacs, senior VP of environment, technology, and regulatory affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, approved the move to fix WOTUS. “The final WOTUS rule issued by the last administration was unworkable, a fact acknowledged by courts around the country, and amounted to a massive grab of regulatory authority by an EPA that was overreaching,” he said. “We look forward to working with Administrator Pruitt and his team to craft a rule that protects public health and the environment, while giving clarity and certainty to our nation’s farmers and job creators.”
The American Soybean Association agreed. “Farmers cannot operate without clean water, and each of us takes his or her role as a steward of that resource very seriously,” said John Heisdorffer, VP and Iowa farmer. “The WOTUS rule, however, subjected the creeks and streams and ditches that crisscross our operations under an overly broad, one-size-fits-all regulatory definition that made no sense for our individual farms.”
Further, Zippy Duvall, president, American Farm Bureau Federation, argued the original rule was never really about clean water. “It was a federal land grab designed to put a straightjacket on farming and private businesses across this nation. That’s why our federal courts blocked it from going into effect for the past two years…EPA should ditch this rule once and for all, go back to the drawing board, and write a new rule that protects water quality without trampling the rights of businesses and the states.”
The proposed Definition of “Waters of the United States” rule is open for public comment at http://www.regulations.gov until Aug. 28, 2017, so be sure to add your two cents.
From The Editor