The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule has now been clearly defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army. The new WOTUS rule definition has been finalized in the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which includes four simple categories of jurisdictional waters and outlines clear exclusions for various water bodies that have not previously been regulated.
“President Trump is restoring the rule of law and empowering Americans by removing undue burdens and strangling regulations from the backs of our productive farmers, ranchers, and rural land-owners. The days are gone when the Federal Government can claim a small farm pond on private land as navigable waters,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a press release. “I thank President Trump and Administrator Wheeler for having the backs of our farmers, ranchers, and producers and for continuing to roll back Federal overreach. With reforms and deregulation, Americans once again have the freedom to innovate, create, and grow.”
The new WOTUS rule definition also plainly outlines regulatory language that had not previously been defined. The Navigable Waters Protection Rule has been established as a means of protecting the environment while also recognizing the authority of states, local governments, tribes, and private property owners. The new development with the WOTUS rule is likely going to result in a series of legal proceedings stemming from previous enforcement activities related to the rule. Many in the agricultural community have issued a myriad of statements in support of the action taken to better define the WOTUS rule.
“Farmers and ranchers care about clean water and preserving the land, which are essential to producing healthy food and fiber and ensuring future generations can do the same. That’s why we support the new clean water rule. It provides clarity and certainty, allowing farmers to understand water regulations without having to hire teams of consultants and lawyers,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “We appreciate the commitment of the agencies involved and this administration to crafting a new regulation that achieves important regulatory oversight while allowing farmers to farm. Clean water, clear rules.”
“Farmers are committed to protecting the environment and implementing on-farm soil health practices like planting cover crops, reducing tillage and more carefully managing crop residue,” said National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross. “This new rule gives the flexibility and clarity needed to implement stewardship practices without the threat of government action. The final WOTUS rule will protect our nation’s water and be implemented without confusion, welcome news for farmers. NCGA appreciates the work done by the Trump Administration to provide this regulatory certainty.”
“The fertilizer industry strongly supports the EPA’s and the Department of the Army’s new WOTUS rule, which provides a sustainable national water policy that both protects the environment and facilitates smart economic development,” said Lara Moody, Vice President of Stewardship and Sustainability for the Fertilizer Institute (TFI). “The new rule more clearly defines which waters are subject to federal jurisdiction and which waters are subject to state protection, clarity that was severely lacking in the 2015 rule.”