Trump Ends WOTUS, Ag Supports Move

Taylor Hillman Environment

WOTUS
As expected, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. Agriculture groups around the nation support the move.

Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif: “The health of our nation’s water is of paramount importance to Western Growers and its 2,500 members who grow more than half of the country’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts. Our collective livelihoods depend on the abundant availability of clean water, which has been protected over the years by the reasonable application of the Clean Water Act.

“However, we believe the 2015 WOTUS rule exceeded the federal government’s jurisdiction as defined by Congress in the Act, which only intended to give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority over navigable waterways affecting interstate commerce. Indeed, this interpretation has been confirmed by the Supreme Court in Rapanos v. United States.

“We are pleased with President Trump’s executive order directing the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to formally reconsider WOTUS. While we recognize this order will not immediately repeal the rule, it will provide adequate space for these federal agencies to engage state and local governments to craft an alternative solution that both fits within the boundaries prescribed in the Act and serves the best interests of the environment and key stakeholders.

“More importantly, we believe the order should spur Congress toward much-needed legislation clarifying the reach and extent of federal jurisdiction under the Act. Since the Rapanos decision, there has been significant inconsistency in interpretation and application of the Act, which has resulted in harmful unintended economic consequences for landowners. After decades of inactivity, we call on Congress to enact legislation defining the limits of the Clean Water Act.”

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall: “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 Council (NPPC): “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,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “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.”

“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,” Weber said. “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.”

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA):  “We appreciate the Trump Administration’s commitment to reducing regulatory burdens for America’s farmers and ranchers,” said NCGA 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.