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Groups Respond to EPA’s Newly Defined WOTUS Rule

Dan General

wotus rule

Secretary Perdue Statement on EPA & Army Corps WOTUS Announcement

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today praised the announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers that they are fulfilling President Trump’s pledge to repeal and replace the Waters of the United States rule. 

Perdue issued the following statement:

“When I meet with the men and women of American agriculture, one of their chief concerns is always the overreach of federal regulations.  The WOTUS rule is regularly singled out as particularly egregious, as it impedes the use of their own land and stifles productivity.  Farmers and ranchers are exceptional stewards of the environment, and states have their own standards as well.  This welcome action from the EPA and Army Corps will help bring clarity to Clean Water Act regulations and help farmers know where federal jurisdiction begins and ends.  President Trump is making good on his promise to reduce burdensome regulations to free our producers to do what they do best – feed, fuel, and clothe this nation and the world.”   

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

New Water Rule a “Fresh Start” for Cattle Producers

NCBA President Kevin Kester released the following statement in response to the Trump Administration’s announcement of a new proposed water rule:

“After years of uncertainty stemming from the 2015 WOTUS rule, the Trump Administration’s new water rule represents a fresh start for America’s cattle producers. NCBA advocated for a new water rule that is easy to understand and implement. The Administration listened. The proposed water rule provides safeguards to keep our waters clean and clear rules for landowners to follow. We look forward to engaging with the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to finalize the rule.”

Background

The Trump Administration proposed a new water rule. Designed to replace the illegal 2015 WOTUS rule, the new water rule would:

· Protect the private property rights of American cattle producers;
· Provide safeguards for America’s waters;
· Observe the appropriate role of the federal government in regulating waterways;
· Restore state and local authority to protect waters;
· Respect Congress’s intent in limiting jurisdiction to “navigable waters” in the Clean Water Act.

As a next step, the proposed rule will be posted in the Federal Register and become open for public comment. NCBA plans to submit comments on the rule and encourages members to do the same.

The 2015 WOTUS rule is currently in effect in 22 states. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are currently in the process of repealing the 2015 WOTUS rule.

American Farm Bureau Federation

Farm Bureau Applauds New Clean Water Rule Proposal Signed by EPA

State Farm Bureau presidents from across the nation attended an event at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington to witness the signing of the proposed Clean Water Rule. The following statement regarding the new Clean Water Rule can be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

“Farmers and ranchers work every day to protect our nation’s waterways and drinking water. For more than five years we have advocated for a new water rule that protects clean water and provides clear rules for people and communities to follow. This new rule will empower farmers and ranchers to comply with the law, protect our water resources and productively work their land without having to hire an army of lawyers and consultants.

“We want to protect land and water in the communities where we live and work. Clean water is our way of life. Preserving our land and protecting our water means healthy places to live, work and play. We believe this new Clean Water Rule is rooted in common-sense. It will protect our nation’s water resources and allow farmers to farm.

“We appreciate the months of hard work that the administration, especially the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, invested in making sure the new Clean Water Rule was done right. Unlike the 2015 WOTUS rule, this new rule protects our resources, respects the law and provides greater clarity so the agencies and the public can identify regulated federal waterways. We will further analyze this new rule in the coming days and will suggest further refinements during the comment period.”

Alabama Department of Agriculture

EPA Releases Newly Defined WOTUS Rule for Public Comment

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the newly defined and revised “Waterways of the United States” (WOTUS) rule for public comment.

The repealing of the 2015 WOTUS began when President Donald Trump signed an executive order in February 2017 which prompted EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers to revise the Obama-era rule.

The February Order states that navigable waters are to be kept free from pollution, while at the same time promote economic growth, and minimize regulatory uncertainty.

EPA’s latest version is said to simplify the language, further define what is considered federal jurisdiction, and clearly outline categories.

The new rule consists of six categories: traditional navigable waterways, tributaries, ditches, lake/ponds, impoundments, and wetlands adjacent to certain waters.

The new rule also dives deeper into what is and is not under WOTUS classification. There were 11 exclusions included:  groundwater, most ditches, prior converted crop land, treatment systems, borrow pits, etc.

“This user-friendly amendment will restore landowners rights,” said Commissioner John McMillan. “The prior rule greatly expanded Washington’s control over local land use. These necessary changes will assist landowners in understanding whether a project needs federal permits, thus saving our producers both time and money.”

If finalized, the agency’s proposed rule would apply nationwide. WOTUS will be open to public comment for 60 days. Comments on the proposal should be identified with Docket ID No EPA-HQ-OW-2018-014 and may be submitted online at regulations.gov.

For additional information, visit epa.gov/wotus-rule.

National Milk Producers Federation

Milk Producers Pleased Waters of the U.S. Rule Replacement is Underway

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) is pleased that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have begun the process of replacing the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

NMPF staff were given an overview of the newly proposed WOTUS rule that will replace the 2015 version in a ceremony at EPA headquarters today. As NMPF reviews the proposal, staff are highly confident it will improve upon the current rule, which has led to unnecessary legal fees, compliance costs and confusion for U.S. dairy producers.

“Dairy farmers have a vested interest in the outcome of this rulemaking and its potential impact on their operations,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We look forward to working with the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to achieve the proper clarity that dairy farmers need on WOTUS to continue to meet our shared commitment to clean water.”

NMPF, other trade associations and state governments have had grave concerns about the current rule, which is overly broad and potentially unconstitutional. NMPF has repeatedly called on the EPA to rewrite the 2015 regulation and narrow its scope. The rule has faced an enormous amount of litigation around the country and was on track to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The new rule will be subject to a public comment period that will last 60 days from its publication in the Federal Register, which is expected by January.

Alabama Farmers Federation

Federal officials issued new waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) guidelines today to help protect farmers and landowners from intrusive government regulations.

In their proposal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers clarified federal authority under the Clean Water Act.

Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell applauded the proposed definition, which excludes ditches from regulation unless contributing flow to a perennial or intermittent stream.

“The proposed rule is good news for Alabama farmers and restores common sense to Clean Water Act enforcement,” Parnell said. “For several years, farmers, businesses and homeowners have lived under the threat of government intrusion and costly penalties due to overaggressive actions of the Obama-era EPA. We appreciate the Trump administration, current EPA administration, Alabama’s congressional delegation and our state attorneys general for standing by farmers and landowners as we’ve fought back against the WOTUS rule.”

Under the proposal, federally regulated areas include traditional navigable waters, tributaries to those waters, some ditches, certain lakes and ponds, impoundments of jurisdictional waters, and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters.

The proposal also details non-waters of the U.S., such as areas that only contain water during or in response to rainfall; many ditches, including most roadside or farm ditches; prior converted cropland; stormwater control features; and waste treatment systems.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall thanked the EPA and Corps for investing time in a rule that will allow farmers to comply with the law while protecting water resources.

“Clean water is our way of life. Preserving our land and protecting our water means healthy places to live, work and play,” Duvall said. “We believe this new Clean Water Rule is rooted in common sense. It will protect our nation’s water resources and allow farmers to farm.”

Today’s announcement is the second part in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of WOTUS consistent with President Donald Trump’s February 2017 executive order.

A 60-day comment period is now in effect.

EPA and the Corps will hold an informational webcast Jan. 10 and will host a listening session on the proposed rule Jan. 23 in Kansas City, KS.

Learn more at epa.gov/wotus-rule.

Georgia Department of Agriculture

EPA Releases Newly Defined WOTUS Rule for Public Comment

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the newly defined and revised “Waterways of the United States” (WOTUS) rule for public comment.

“This is a great victory for our farming community over the very real threat of blatant federal overreach on private property,” Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black said.  “The new rule will finally give our landowners a clear and precise definition regarding what is regulated and what is not, ending years of uncertainty and confusion on where the Clean Water Act applies—and where it does not.”

The proposal is the second step in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of “waters of the United States” consistent with President Trump’s February 2017 Executive Order stating that navigable waters are to be kept free from pollution, while at the same time promote economic growth, and minimize regulatory uncertainty.

EPA’s latest version is said to simplify the language, further define what is considered federal jurisdiction, and clearly outline categories. The new rule consists of six categories: traditional navigable waterways, tributaries, ditches, lake/ponds, impoundments, and wetlands adjacent to certain waters. The new rule also dives deeper into what is and is not under WOTUS classification with 11 exclusions included:  groundwater, most ditches, prior converted crop land, treatment systems, borrow pits, etc.

If finalized, the agency’s proposed rule would apply nationwide. WOTUS will be open to public comment for 60 days. Comments on the proposal should be identified with Docket ID No EPA-HQ-OW-2018-014 and may be submitted online at regulations.gov. For additional information, visit epa.gov/wotus-rule.

National Pork Producers Council

NPPC Hails EPA’s Proposed New WOTUS Rule

The National Pork Producers Council applauded today’s announcement by the Trump administration of a proposed new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

The regulation would replace the WOTUS rule issued in August 2015 by the Obama administration’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That measure gave EPA broad jurisdiction over U.S. waters 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.

Prior to the 2015 rule, EPA’s jurisdiction over waterways – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – included “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters.

“The 2015 rule was overbroad and poorly written,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “Everyone, particularly farmers, wants clean water, but the old regulation wasn’t about clean water. It was a massive land grab that promoted federal control over private property, grew the size of government and allowed activists to extort and micromanage all kinds of farming and business activities.

“We’re pleased the Trump EPA is replacing it and that the agency took input from farmers in coming up with a new rule that will be practical and workable and, unlike the previous rule, that will protect the nation’s waterways,” Heimerl said.