It’s been called a massive overreach by the federal government. Now, it may not reach to America’s agricultural community at all.
The EPA has announced that the much-derided 2015 Clean Water Rule (known in most circles simply as “WOTUS”) now has an effective date of 2020 — but the truth is, with all the reviews and reactions the rule is still facing, there’s a strong chance it will never see the light of day.
“EPA is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation.”
The rule has been under fire from President Donald Trump and from the American Farm Bureau Federation, which has said that the rule “expands federal jurisdiction far beyond what was authorized by Congress, resulting in the imposition of burdensome requirements and tremendous uncertainty for farmers and ranchers.” The AFBF has even run a #DitchtheRule campaign on social media.
The 2015 rule, which redefined the scope of where the Clean Water Act applies, originally had an effective date of August 28, 2015. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit had issued a stay of implementation, a decision that was overturned last week by the Supreme Court, which said the Appeals Court lacked jurisdiction. That’s what led us to where we are now, with the rule on hold in the interest of clarity.
What’s clear, though, is that farmers and rancher have some breathing room, at least for a couple of years.