Few groups in the ag industry have been happy with the Waters Of The U.S. rule (WOTUS), and it’s no surprise to see President Donald Trump getting applause for issuing an executive order rolling back the 2015 rule.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Pork Producers Council, and several other municipal and industry stakeholders sought court action at the end of 2016 calling for the EPA and the Army Corps’ controversial rule to be invalidated.
“We appreciate the Trump Administration’s commitment to reducing regulatory burdens for America’s farmers and ranchers,” NCGA President Wesley Spurlock said Tuesday when the rollback was announced. “We fully support the repeal of the WOTUS rule. Farmers and ranchers care deeply about clean water, but this rule had significant flaws. It was arbitrarily written, legally indefensible, and extremely difficult to implement.”
WOTUS, which took effect Aug. 28, 2015, was proposed in April 2014 by the EPA and the Corps of Engineers to clarify the agencies’ authority over various waters. That jurisdiction — based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions — had included “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. But the regulation broadened that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also covered lands adjacent to such waters.
A U.S. Court of Appeals stay has been in place since October 2015 as ag and environment associations, along with more than 30 states, challenged the Obama Administration rule.
NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Iowa, has said in the past: “We all want clean water, but this regulation is a big land grab that promotes growth of government and allows activists to extort and micromanage all kinds of farming and business activities.”