On Sept. 12, the Trump administration announced it will revoke the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which placed waterways under the thumb of federal regulators.
WOTUS was initiated during the Obama administration. The rule expanded the Clean Water Act of 1972, and its guidelines have made life extremely difficult for land owners, producers and developers.
Without question, WOTUS overstepped and infringed upon property rights, as well as negatively impacted agricultural and economic development. While I’m certain it was created with environmental stewardship in mind, when implemented, WOTUS lacked in common sense and bullied innocent landowners.
With this recent move to roll back the environmental protections placed during President Barack Obama’s time in office, regulators will go back to the drawing board to create a new WOTUS rule that works with landowners instead of treating them like criminals.
“This action officially ends an egregious power grab and sets the stage for a new rule that will provide much-needed regulatory certainty for farmers, home builders and property owners nationwide,” said Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler and R.D. James, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, in a joint statement.
As the government gets to work creating new guidelines for sound conservation practices and responsible land/water management, the agricultural industry is rejoicing at this victory.
“Cattle producers are the nation’s original environmental stewards – we work hard to ensure that our natural resources remain pristine and to implement conservation practices to protect our water resources,” said Jennifer Houston, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president. “The 2015 WOTUS Rule was an illegal effort by the federal government to assert control over both land and water, significantly impacting our ability to implement vital conservation practices.”
She added, “After years spent fighting the 2015 WOTUS Rule in the halls of Congress, in the Courts, and at the EPA, cattle producers will sleep a little easier tonight knowing that the nightmare is over. Thanks to President Trump and Administrator Wheeler for their commitment to farmers and ranchers and restoring the rule of law. NCBA looks forward to the finalization of a practical Waters of the United States definition that will protect our water resource while allowing cattle producers to do their jobs effectively.”
“We’re pleased the EPA is moving towards a common sense WOTUS rule that works with, not against, farmers to protect our nation’s waterways,” said National Pork Producer President David Herring. “This action will remove the threat that the 2015 WOTUS rule posed for our ability to efficiently grow the amount of food needed by people around the globe, while providing regulatory certainty to our farmers and businesses. We look forward to working with this administration to finally implement a new WOTUS rule."
“This is a huge win,” said Don Parrish, American Farm Bureau Federation senior director of regulator regulations. “It's one that has taken almost three years of this administration to do. It is one that will ultimately lead to another step, being a new regulation that provides the kind of clarity that I think our members deserve, that I think the public deserves, but it also provides protections for water quality.”
He added, “What it means is we revert back to the rules that existed before 2015. The next step is to develop a rule that provides clarity and really draws a line on the landscape. On one side of the line, the waters are important enough that the federal government should regulate, on the other side of that the line, states should regulate.”
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.