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Agricultural News

Economist Shannon Ferrell Describes the Source from which the WOTUS Rule's Confusion Flows

Tue, 01 Aug 2017 11:00:35 CDT

Economist Shannon Ferrell Describes the Source from which the WOTUS Rule's Confusion Flows

This past week, roughly 120 agricultural and government leaders met in Oklahoma City for a listening session hosted by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, as he continues to gather information on how to best rewrite the current form of the Waters of the United States rule, or WOTUS, implemented by the Obama-era EPA back in 2015. Agricultural Economist Dr. Shannon Ferrell, who offered comments to Pruitt, explained to Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, what he believes to be at the root of the problem with the original version of the controversial rule and his thoughts on what Pruitt may include in his revision.

“In agriculture, we face a lot of challenges every day, and one of the things we had to do under the old rule, was be an environmental scientist,” Ferrell said. “The reason for that - was the old rule had a list of lots of things that were a water of the US, that was pretty clear.”

But, Ferrell says, the old rule also incorporated a “nexus” test, that makes it very confusing, not just for farmers, but the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers as well, to determine what other bodies of water fall under the rule’s jurisdiction based on its hydrologic connection to an official jurisdictional water. Ferrell says farmers were left unsure about when and when not they were subject to following the rule. A great deal of the frustration has also stemmed from the struggle to clearly define an important detail of the rule, which is what constitutes a “navigable water.”

“We hear the word ‘navigable’ and you think, ‘boat,’ right?” he said. “So, we look at a lot of the waters that are under EPA jurisdiction and go, ‘I probably couldn’t put an innertube down that, much less a barge. That’s kind of been the struggle the past several years - is how do we come up with a definition of ‘navigable’ that makes intuitive sense that adheres to the language of the statute and that’s still protective of enough waters to make sure we have enough clean drinking water and clean agricultural irrigation water as well. That’s the balance they’ve been trying to strike for a while.”

Listen in as Hays and Ferrell discuss the ongoing process to revise the WOTUS rule, and how EPA Administrator Pruitt is working to narrow the grey area in the rule’s language, on today’s Beef Buzz.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.



Listen in as Hays and Ferrell discuss the ongoing process to revise the WOTUS rule, on today's show
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