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EPA, Army Corps of Engineers begin effort to pull back WOTUS

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It’s the move against WOTUS that most farmers and ranchers have been waiting for.

The rule, which was officially called the Clean Water Act but more commonly known as WOTUS (Waters of the U.S.), had been seen as an overreach by federal agencies and as something that would hurt the productivity and sustainability of ag operations. However, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers has now announced a proposal to rescind the WOTUS rule, allowing the ability to better define what waterways are considered.

“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said. “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 reevaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.”

This latest effort will permit farmers and ranchers to implement land management strategies that are the best fit for their operations. These could include grass waterways and buffer strips, among other things.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall had this to say:

“Farmers and ranchers across this country are cheering EPA’s proposal today to ditch its flawed Waters of the U.S. rule. We know the importance of clean water, and farmers and ranchers work hard to protect our natural resources every day. …

“But this 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. Today’s announcement shows EPA Administrator Pruitt recognizes the WOTUS rule for what it is — an illegal and dangerous mistake that needs to be corrected.”

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