Work on New WOTUS Rule Delayed by Government Shutdown as Window of Opportunity ClosesTue, 08 Jan 2019 10:15:41 CST
This past month in December of 2018, the Trump Administration released its proposal for a revised version of the Waters of the United States rule that was implemented in 2015 by the US Environmental Protection Agency under the previous administration. The controversary and burdensome nature of the original version of the rule, of course, prompting this action by the Trump Administration to loosen some of the rule’s restrictive policies and its infringement on private property rights. This is part of the process that has been going on for roughly a year and a half now, ever since President Trump took office. According to Scott Yager, chief environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, there is something of a limited window of opportunity to get a new rule in place and defended in federal court - as litigation over the matter is inevitable - before a potentially new administration takes over. In a recent interview with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, Yager says the clock is ticking and unfortunately right now with the partial government shutdown ongoing, this process is being delayed due to the temporary closure of the Federal Register, which the proposed new rule has not yet been filed with. He says each day that this shutdown continues, is another day lost in trying to advance the goal of finalizing a new WOTUS rule before the end of President Trump’s first term.
“We’ve looked into it and actually played out that exact timeline of ‘can you get this finalized and defended by the Department of Justice before a potential administration change in 2020.’ I think that is feasible, but we’re going to need the government to get back online so we can put this proposal in the Federal Register sooner rather than later,” Yager said. “Every day that ticks by is one day less that we have to get this thing done in two years.”
Yager is optimistic that the government shutdown will eventually be resolved and even with the setback of losing a few days- the difficulty in this process will stem from the issue’s litigiousness brought on by opposing environmental groups that are likely to seek an agenda of ‘sue and settle.’ Yager explains this is a tactic favored by these groups, which have learned how to effectively advance their own interests by essentially regulating policy through the court system. However, the Trump Administration has made it clear that it will not be playing that game when it comes to making policy. Again, though, Yager says taking on these groups can be a monumental task.
“Take a look at Earth Justice, which is the litigation arm for environmental groups like Sierra Club. They have around 100 and some odd attorneys on staff whose whole jobs are to change environmental policy through the courts by suing the government,” he said, invoking the comparison to NCBA which only employees two inhouse counsels. “So, we’re fighting kind of a David and Goliath battle here and it’s not going to end anytime soon. But, we’re getting some successes under this Administration and successes that producers can really hang their hat on. So, we’ll keep working on it and we’ll see where we can get.”
Listen to Yager and Hays continue their discussion on the process of getting a new WOTUS rule on the books and what challenges the Trump Administration faces in accomplishing that task, 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.
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