The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday announced a final rule amending the 2023 definition of the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.
The EPA says the final rule intends to conform with the recent Supreme Court decision in Sackett v. EPA. With this action, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will resume issuing all jurisdictional determinations. The rule will take effect immediately.
Several of the nation’s top ag agencies have responded to the EPA’s amended WOTUS rule.
Ted McKinney, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA):
“The ruling in Sackett v. EPA was a chance for EPA and the Army Corps to correct a deeply flawed, prematurely released rule and work to truly improve water quality outcomes. It is baffling that the revised rule does not accurately address all the issues and questions raised by the Supreme Court in the Sackett decision, nor does it address many of the questions stakeholder groups raised about the WOTUS rule EPA released at the end of last year.”
Chuck Conner, President and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC):
“NCFC is disappointed that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not fully adhere to the ruling issued by the Supreme Court decision earlier this year with their new ‘waters of the United States’ (WOTUS) rule announced today. This action is a missed opportunity to follow the Court’s guidance and resolve a longstanding issue in a commonsense way.
“By picking and choosing what to address in this new definition, the Agencies continue to further inject uncertainty for farmers and ranchers across the country. NCFC calls on the Biden administration to work with the agricultural community and other stakeholders in a meaningful way to develop a long-term solution that reflects the Supreme Court’s decision, protects true navigable waters and provides producers with the certainty they need for their operations.”
Tom Haag, President of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA):
“U.S. corn growers are disappointed by EPA’s revised WOTUS rule. The agency failed to open the process to public comment and engagement, which would have been extremely valuable. Instead, the agency has released a rule that does not fully respect the holdings from the recent U.S. Supreme Court case on WOTUS.”
Mary-Thomas Hart, Chief Counsel of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA):
“The entire cattle industry breathed a sigh of relief when the Supreme Court curtailed the EPA’s overreach under the Clean Water Act. Today’s revised WOTUS definition is an important step toward bringing the EPA more in line with the Supreme Court’s ruling. NCBA looks forward to working with the agency to protect farmers and ranchers from burdensome regulations and provide them with lasting certainty on WOTUS.
“NCBA was proud to lead the fight against burdensome WOTUS rules from Congress to the courts. We will continue analyzing this latest development to ensure that cattle producers are protected.”
Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation:
“EPA had a golden opportunity to write a Waters of the U.S. Rule that’s fair to farmers and stands the test of time, but instead chose to continue government overreach and revise only a small slice of the rule that was rejected by the Supreme Court.
“We’re pleased the vague and confusing ‘significant nexus’ test has been eliminated as the Supreme Court dictated. But EPA has ignored other clear concerns raised by the Justices, 26 states, and farmers across the country about the rule’s failure to respect private property rights and the Clean Water Act.
“Farmers and ranchers share the goal of protecting the resources they’re entrusted with. They deserve a rule that respects farmers as partners in that effort.”
Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG):
“While NAWG acknowledges that the EPA and Army Corps have taken steps to address the aspects of the 2023 Waters of the US regulation that the Supreme Court’s Sackett decision rendered invalid, we cannot help but express our unease with the outcome.
“While we recognize the intent to bring more clarity to wheat growers concerning waters subject to Clean Water Act jurisdiction, we are concerned about the repercussions for our members’ farming operations. The intricate ‘significant nexus’ standard posed challenges for our growers, both in comprehension and alignment with the Clean Water Act. NAWG is disappointed both agencies are proceeding with these regulatory adjustments without public consultation on the proposed changes prior to finalizing the regulation.”