National Ag Groups Cheer Trump Executive Order to Pull Back WOTUSTue, 28 Feb 2017 15:07:56 CST
American Farm Bureau, the National Corn Growers and the National Pork Producers Council are among the ag groups applauding an executive order issued today by President Trump that begins the process of rescinding or rewriting a controversial Clean Water Act regulation that would have given the government broad jurisdiction over land and water.
The order directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a formal review of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which took effect Aug. 28, 2015, and ostensibly was implemented to clarify the agency’s authority over various waters. That jurisdiction – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – had included “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. But the regulation broadened that 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.
According to Zippy Duvall with the American Farm Bureau, “President Trump’s executive order to ditch the Waters of the U.S. rule is a welcome relief to farmers and ranchers across the country today.
“The flawed WOTUS rule has proven to be nothing more than a federal land grab, aimed at telling farmers and ranchers how to run their businesses. The Environmental Protection Agency failed to listen to farmers’ and ranchers’ concerns when drafting the rule and instead created widespread confusion for agriculture. Under the rule, the smallest pond or ditch could be declared a federal waterway.
“Farmers and ranchers have been calling for a common-sense approach to regulatory reform, and today the Trump administration responded to that call. EPA has too long been characterized by regulatory overreach that disregards the positive conservation efforts of farmers and threatens their very way of life. Today’s action is as much a beginning as an end, and there is much work to do to ensure that any revised rule is transparent and fair for America’s farmers and ranchers.”
National Pork Producers President John Weber is also very pleased with the news. “America’s pork producers are very pleased that the president ordered EPA and the Corps of Engineers to repeal or rewrite this ill-conceived, overbroad regulation. The WOTUS rule was a dramatic government overreach and an unprecedented expansion of federal jurisdiction and control over private lands.
“It was the product of a flawed regulatory process that lacked transparency and no doubt would have been used by trial lawyers and environmental activists to attack farmers.”
Weber adds “The WOTUS rule sought to hand control of land-use planning decisions to out-of-touch activists and government regulators in New York, San Francisco and Washington. We all want clean water, but this regulation was just a big government land grab that would have allowed activists to micromanage all kinds of farming and business activities. We applaud President Trump for taking this action.”
Corn Growers have also chimed in with their approval. “We appreciate the Trump Administration’s commitment to reducing regulatory burdens for America’s farmers and ranchers,” said National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock. “We fully support the repeal of the WOTUS rule. Farmers and ranchers care deeply about clean water, but this rule had significant flaws. It was arbitrarily written, legally indefensible, and extremely difficult to implement.”
“NCGA remains committed to work with the EPA to ensure farmers have clarity and certainty they need about the regulations affecting their operations,” said Spurlock.
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