The Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), which to my knowledge has yet to get a nickname other than WOTUS 2.0, is a done deal. After years and years of work, the burdensome Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule is behind us and the NWPR will take its place mid- to late-March.
That, says Scott Yager, NCBA chief environmental counsel, is cause for celebration. That’s because the new rule is more specific about what is and isn’t regulated and is a “more constrained regulatory rule,” putting some clamps on federal government overreach.
If you’ll recall, the Trump administration repealed the 2015 Obama-era WOTUS rule last September. The new NWPR rule replaces the repealed WOTUS rule. That’s essential, Yager says, because without some sort of regulatory direction, federal government bureaucrats could pretty much regulate anything they wanted to because there would be no guard rails to stop them.
READ: The WOTUS witch is dead
The new rule is something that beef producers can take credit for, Yager says. “Because of the outreach from our grassroots members through the comment process, which took place over the past year, we were able to get some really good, strong, positive comments to the government.” And the final rule reveals that EPA took those comments seriously. “So let that be an example that your voice matters in the comment process. As arduous or boring as it may seem, it actually produces results.”
While the rule is final and will become effective soon, there are still challenges. It will be litigated by every environmental advocacy group out there,” he says. In fact, those groups are already litigating the repeal of the 2015 WOTUS rule.
“We’re stepping up into those cases to defend the repeal of the WOTUS rule. And we’re likely going to step up and defend the Trump administration’s action for the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, to try to fight back those activists who are trying to challenge it in court and have some finality once and for all.”
That’s going to take time and money. “I expect this issue will go before the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming years,” he says. The Supreme Court has already looked at the issue three times and maybe the fourth will be the charm that brings some finality to the fight.
So stay tuned. In the meantime, however, WOTUS is dead. Long live its replacement.