WASHINGTON, DC – Almost lost in the news cycle with House passage of the Build Back Better initiative has been news out of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) whereby the Biden Administration has decided to replace the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) with a return to the 1986 definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS).
According to Mary-Thomas Hart with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), “it’s the enemy, you know.”
Since passage in 1972, the EPA has led the charge on the Clean Waters Act, but the Obama Administration was the first to craft a formal definition (WOTUS), and one that the Supreme Court said needed revision. Thus, the Trump Administration proposed the NWPR as a replacement definition, and agriculture said they could support it – unlike the WOTUS definition.
It appears the current EPA is trying to provide a clean slate to start all over again, so Hart says there shouldn’t be much practical change immediately, but changes will surely be coming down the road.
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) quickly expressed disappointment with the Administrator of EPA, Michael Regan, who pledged earlier in the year to listen to the needs of farmers and ranchers by committing to a rule that would not be overly burdensome.
Almost every agricultural group in the nation found themselves at odds with the WOTUS definition because it placed regulations on waters and areas that might hold water that was not “navigable.” Farmers and agriculture-state lawmakers argued that WOTUS was the biggest land grab by the government in the country’s history by regulating ditches and places where puddles would form following rain.
AFBF President Zippy Duvall said, “we are particularly concerned EPA is bringing back the significant nexus test. This case-by-case test threatens to unfairly regulate large areas of private land miles from the nearest navigable water.”
(SOURCE: All Ag News)