September 21, 2023


Elegant Food

Ag leaders skeptical of latest WOTUS rule

3 min read

EPA introduced a brand new definition for “waters of the US” strikingly much like the WOTUS designation in place earlier than 2015.

“For too lengthy farmers have needed to navigate inconsistency and uncertainty in complying with the Clear Water Act,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says. “Right now’s announcement by the EPA and the Military Corps of Engineers clarifying the definition of ‘Waters of the US’ offers American farmers with the readability and consistency wanted to successfully handle their operations and be stewards of their pure sources. USDA shall be a accomplice to EPA in sharing info with farmers and ranchers round this vital difficulty and has a collection of conservation applications that may present producers with the sources they should implement conservation practices that contribute to wash water and wholesome waterways.”

Agriculture leaders weren’t enthusiastic concerning the announcement. The Nationwide Cattleman’s Beef Affiliation had been lobbying EPA to incorporate agricultural exclusions for small, remoted and momentary options frequent on farms and ranches.

“For too lengthy, farmers and ranchers have handled the whiplash of shifting WOTUS definitions,” NCBA Chief Counsel Mary-Thomas Hart stated. “Right now, the Biden administration sought to finalize a WOTUS definition that may shield each our nation’s water provide and cattle producers throughout the nation. Whereas the rule retains longstanding, bipartisan WOTUS exclusions for sure agricultural options, it creates new uncertainty for farmers, ranchers, and landowners throughout the nation.”

The Clear Water Act of 1972 offers the federal authorities authority to restrict air pollution in main our bodies of water in addition to different streams and wetlands that drain into them. Two Supreme Court docket instances within the early 2000s created confusion over which waterways had been topic to the Act’s provisions.

In 2015, the Obama administration issued the Waters of the US rule to make clear and increase the EPA’s authority to fight air pollution. Whereas environmental teams praised the choice, agriculture leaders stated it might create undue burdens for farmers and ranchers. That led to a number of court docket instances with conflicting rulings.

The Trump Administration later threw out the Obama rule and created its personal WOTUS definition. That rule was later thrown out in court docket.

Complicating issues now could be a case the Supreme Court docket is ready to listen to which will restrict the EPA’s regulatory authority. The timing of the brand new WOTUS rule is seen by many as a Biden administration try and get forward of that ruling.

“The Nationwide Affiliation of Wheat Growers is deeply involved that the EPA and U.S. Military Corps rushed to get this revised definition out previous to the tip of the yr as an alternative of ready for the choice within the Sackett case earlier than the Supreme Court docket,” NAWG CEO Chandler Goule stated. “Whereas we proceed reviewing the ultimate rule, for the reason that rulemaking course of was introduced final yr, NAWG has harassed that farmers want readability concerning jurisdiction, acknowledge vital agricultural water options, and extra long-term certainty from the courts and administrations.”

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