EPA Advisory Panel Recommends Limited WOTUS Definition, Protection for Ag Features

An EPA advisory panel recommends the agency continue to protect water rule exemptions for farm features, as it rewrites the Trump Navigable Waters Protection Rule that replaced WOTUS.

EPA’s Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities advisory panel calls for a clear and limited WOTUS definition with exemptions for ditches, stock ponds, prairie potholes and prior converted cropland, though it’s no guarantee EPA chief Michael Regan will go along.

National Cattlemen’s Scott Yager says that would be a mistake. “While not perfect, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule worked for farmers and ranchers. So, there is a political calculus here, and they will be losing votes, in my opinion, by going down a path and creating a rule that doesn’t work for producers.”

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duval says farmers and ranchers already had the best deal they could get with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule that replaced the Obama-era WOTUS. “They wanted it to be simplified, to where they didn’t have to go hire lawyers and consultants to interpret it. And they wanted it to be very clear them, what are Waters of the U.S. and what are not Waters of the U.S. And we think we got as close as we could get, in accomplishing that. But to back up now and say we’re going to redo it, is just really frustrating for our farmers.”

Duval stresses the importance of keeping the word “navigable” in any new rule and defining it properly–something Farm Bureau is pressing as the EPA takes public comment to prepare WOTUS 2.0

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