Soothing water

Soothing water

EPA finalizes WOTUS rule

The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its controversial Waters of the U.S. rule. Reaction from the head of the creek is anything but positive.

The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says cattle producers’ concerns about the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule are “ludicrous.” Cattle producers—in fact, all of agriculture—beg to differ. The EPA on Wednesday released its final WOTUS rule, and reaction from cattle and agriculture organizations was swift, direct and to the point.

According to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), it appears the EPA motto is “nothing left unregulated”  and says the WOTUS rule strips private property rights and adds hundreds of thousands of stream miles and acres of land to federal jurisdiction.

“The former Obama campaign officials who received political appointments at EPA are apparently putting their activist knowledge base to use,” says Philip Ellis, NCBA president. Ellis accuses the agency of conducting a grassroots lobbying campaign using social media to drown out the concerns of private property owners. “Soliciting endorsements and support is a far cry from simply educating the public, as EPA officials claim.” 

“The EPA has been spending taxpayer dollars employing a grassroots lobbying campaign, hiding information, dismissing concerns from stakeholders, and holding closed-door meetings with environmental activists,” says Brenda Richards, Idaho rancher and Public Lands Council president. “There is no question that this rule will infringe on private property rights and usurp state authority over land and water use. Ambiguous language included will only serve to further jam courtrooms across the country with jurisdictional challenges.”

While NCBA and PLC are reviewing the details of the final rule, the entire process has been flawed and must be set aside, the groups say; the final rule poses an unnecessary threat to private property owners and cattle producers across the country. The only fix is to start over with all stakeholders’ input and direction from Congress, NCBA says.

According to Mike Deering, executive vice president of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, the proposed WOTUS rule will be devastating, adding the rule will add nearly 80,000 additional Missouri stream miles to the regulatory authority of EPA and the Army Corps of Engineer

“The agencies’ rule throws private property rights to the curb and clearly violates Supreme Court precedent by subjecting nearly all water to scientifically unfounded regulation,” Deering says. “The intentional use of very broad and vague language in this rule makes it clear that the government’s intent is to subject landowners to limitless regulation. This nonsense cannot possibly be supported by the Clean Water Act or the U.S. Constitution.”

The Farm Bureau is undertaking an analysis of the final WOTUS rule, says Bob Stallman, Farm Bureau president, but he’s not holding any assurances that agriculture’s concerns have been addressed.  “Based on the agency’s numerous misstatements about the content and impact of that proposal, we find little comfort in the agency’s assurances that our concerns have been addressed in any meaningful way,” Stallman says.

Ellis agrees. By law, the EPA must read and consider all comments submitted on the proposed rule, but only six months after receiving over 1 million public comments on the proposal, EPA has finalized the rule. According to Ellis, this is a clear indication there is no intention of considering the concerns of those most impacted by the rule.

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