The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today that the dairy industry supports a two-step process to roll back the existing Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulation and generate a new policy that provides farmers greater certainty in the future.
NMPF has supported efforts by the Trump Administration since January to restart the regulatory process behind the controversial 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. NMPF provided comments today to EPA in support of rescinding the 2015 rule so the agency can initiate a new regulatory process defining and regulating groundwater sources. The agency has been soliciting comments on the WOTUS revision process during the past two months.
“A fresh start and a more reasonable approach that complies with past Supreme Court rulings will be in the best interests of the environment and dairy farmers,” said Jamie Jonker, NMPF vice president for sustainability and scientific affairs, in comments to EPA. “We are committed to working with the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to find effective ways to protect America’s water supplies.”
Rescinding the 2015 policy – which is currently not being enforced because an appeals court suspended it last year, pending the outcome of several lawsuits – is the first step in a two-part process. In the forthcoming second step, EPA will need to propose a new rule that conforms to the various Supreme Court cases impacting definitions for what is considered a water of the U.S. In NMPF’s letter to EPA, Jonker said that EPA and the Army Corps will need to correct the ambiguity resulting from the 2015 rule’s lack of clarity on key terms and definitions, such as “adjacent,” “floodplain” and “significant nexus.”
“The agencies’ new notice-and-comment rulemaking needs to provide dairy farmers with certainty as to what constitutes navigable waters of the United States by clearly complying with the Supreme Court decisions,” NMPF wrote. “We look forward to working with you in the future for the proper clarity that dairy farmers need on WOTUS to continue to meet our shared commitment to clean water,” NMPF wrote.