AFBF: Water rule reversal a blow to agriculture
On June 9, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of the Army announced their intent to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS).
The action reflects the agencies’ intent to initiate a new rulemaking process that restores the protections in place prior to the 2015 WOTUS implementation.
Georgia Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation supported measures in the Navigable Waters Protection Rule rolled out in 2020. GFB and AFBF maintained that the 2015 WOTUS rule represented a massive regulatory overreach that violated landowners’ private property rights.
“The American Farm Bureau Federation is extremely disappointed in the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement of its intention to reverse the environmentally conscious Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which finally brought clarity and certainty to clean water efforts,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a written statement. “Farmers and ranchers care about clean water and preserving the land, and they support the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.”
Duvall said the agencies failed to recognize the concerns of farmers and ranchers in deciding to reverse the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.
“This is an important moment for Administrator [Michael] Regan and will be pivotal to his ability to earn the trust of farmers on this and other administration priorities. He must keep his word to recognize the efforts of agriculture and not return to flawed, overly complicated and excessive regulations,” Duvall said.
AFBF urged the EPA to be aware of the burden placed on farmers and ranchers by overreaching regulation and to ensure the term “navigable” is not effectively removed from the Clean Water Act via the new rule.
“On this issue, and particularly prior converted croplands and ephemerals, we also urge [Agriculture] Secretary [Tom] Vilsack to ensure that we don’t return to the regulatory land grab that was the 2015 WOTUS Rule,” Duvall said. “Clean water and clarity are paramount, and that is why farmers shouldn’t need a team of lawyers and consultants to farm.”