BUILDER: Opinion: Builders To Benefit From Revised WOTUS Rule

Builders scored a major victory at the end of 2018 when the Trump administration released its proposed new definition for the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. This revised rule is a welcome reprieve from the 2015 WOTUS definition, which was confusing and a huge encroachment of federal authority.

From the moment the 2015 regulation was proposed, NAHB fought it with our typical vigor. We engaged legislators and regulators, emphasizing how this rule was inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent and congressional intent. We also played a vital role in litigating WOTUS-related cases in the court system.

The administration heard us loud and clear. This proposed new WOTUS definition fulfills President Donald Trump’s commitment to the NAHB to end the 2015 rule. One of his earliest acts in office was to sign an executive order directing the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin to repeal and replace the previous definition. This action honored a campaign promise he made to the NAHB Board of Directors in 2016 when he was running for president, and we offered critical insight as the proposal was being developed.

The new definition would provide much-needed clarity regarding which waters fall under federal oversight. This would help accelerate the permitting process, which in turn will allow home builders to more easily provide affordable housing. As our nation deals with a major housing affordability crisis, we need these types of reasonable, common-sense regulations that do not unnecessarily raise home prices.

Continue reading at Builder…

Photo Credit: Builder Staff

THE INTER-MOUNTAIN: Opinion: Protecting your backyard

Our office also remains actively involved in arguments to undo the Obama-era WOTUS rule, a regulation that, like the job-killing Power Plan, we stopped in its tracks.

That crucial victory blocks the federal government from using the Obama-era rule to take control over almost any body of water, such as isolated streams, dry creek beds, gravel pits, hundred-year floodplains and roadside ditches. That Obama-era rule tried to regulate your backyard ditch in a manner consistent with how the federal government regulates the Potomac, the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers.

It seems pretty obvious that “water” should not be defined in such a way that the federal government acts like a national zoning board.

There needs to be a sensible, predictable definition so that everyone knows when and if they will be subject to Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

Continue reading at The Inter-Mountain…

FARM PROGRESS: Commentary: Proposed clean water rule good for ag

At the Family Farm Alliance, we support the proposed actions to repeal and replace the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which we viewed as a jurisdictional expansion that would create additional bureaucratic red tape. The 2015 Obama rule also impedes Western producers’ ability to manage the delivery and use of water to grow food and fiber for the world. Despite these concerns, we worked constructively with the EPA during the Obama administration to ensure that, regardless of what happens with the various court proceedings, assurances will remain that allow for construction and maintenance of irrigation ditches and the maintenance of drainage ditches.

We’ve also worked closely with the EPA during the Trump administration to advance these concerns as well. Of critical importance to Western water users, irrigation and roadside ditches will be excluded under the new WOTUS definition, unless they are specifically included in a few narrow circumstances.

Continue reading at Farm Progress…

Photo Credit: Getty Images

THE SALT LAKE CITY TRIBUNE: Commentary: Utah farmers want clean water and clear rules

In early December 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency published for comment a new proposed clean water rule to replace the flawed 2015 “Waters of the U.S.” rule. The details will take some time to sort out — and there may be room for improvement on the latest proposal. But there’s no question that this is good news for farmers and ranchers who have faced a tangled web of confusing and unclear rules that have left us uncertain of whether we can even farm our own land.

The 2015 WOTUS rule was so broad and vague that a farmer or rancher would have no idea whether any ditch or pond on his or her farm was subject to federal regulation. Farmers in the West have been cited and fined for doing things as commonplace as plowing a field or switching crops, just because rainwater drains across the field. Farmers and ranchers aren’t the only ones who’ve struggled with this rule — homebuilders, small-business owners, towns, cities, counties and states have all waded through the mire to figure out which activities could open us to fines of more than $50,000 per day.

Federal regulations shouldn’t be a game of “gotcha.” Landowners should have fair warning of what activities are regulated and what landscape features are protected as “waters of the U.S.” A farmer should be able to look across his or her farm and be able to tell what is and isn’t a federally regulated waterbody. We shouldn’t have to hire a team of lawyers, environmental engineers and consultants to help us guess whether we can farm our land.

Continue reading at The Salt Lake Tribune…

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: EPA Nominee Andrew Wheeler Pledges to Ease Burdensome Environmental Regulations

Mr. Wheeler highlighted his success at delivering a long-promised proposal to narrow the definition of federal waterways protected under the Clean Water Act.

“I believe that any property owner should be able to stand on his or her property and be able to tell for themselves whether or not they have waters of the U.S. on their property without having to hire an outside consultant,” Mr. Wheeler said. Farmers and property developers have applauded the move, while environmentalists have said the excluded streams and wetlands are essential to preventing pollution in larger bodies of water.

Continue reading at The Wall Street Journal…

USA TODAY: Opinion: President Trump made the right pick for EPA: Sen. Barrasso

Since July, Mr. Wheeler has served as acting administrator. Under his leadership, EPA has issued commonsense policy regulations to protect our environment, while still allowing America’s economy to grow.

Overreaching regulations such as the so-called Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States rule would have damaged our economy and cost Americans jobs with minimal benefit to the environment.

These regulations weren’t just bad policy, they were illegal. With Andrew Wheeler in charge, the agency has worked with states to draft commonsense replacement rules that protect the environment, follow the law and are simpler to understand.

Continue reading at USA Today…

Photo Credit: Jack Gruber, USA Today

THE DAILY CALLER: Trump Tells Farmers: ‘We’re Going To Get Government Off Your Backs’

President Donald Trump touted his administration’s repealing of the “Waters of the United States” rule, also known as WOTUS, while speaking at the 100th annual American Farm Bureau Convention in New Orleans.

“We’re saving farmers and ranchers from one of the most ridiculous regulations ever imposed on anybody in our nation, the Waters of the United States rule,” Trump said in his speech Monday to applause and cheers from the audience.

“You could have a pond, a little pond, and they consider it a lake,” Trump said. “You’re regulated as though it were a lake. We’re going to get government off your backs so you can earn a living and support your families doing what you love, and I know what you love. Farmers love what they’re doing.”

Continue reading at The Daily Caller…

Photo Credit: Kevin Lamarque, Reuters

THE COUNTRY TODAY: Opinion: 2019 is off to a refreshing start

One new beginning in particular that agriculture is looking forward to this year is a new clean water rule — one that promises to be rooted in common sense. Thanks to the resolve of the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, America’s farmers and ranchers can expect a new clean water rule that both protects our nation’s water and provides clear rules for everyone to follow.

This new rule is a long time in coming, from five years ago when we rallied our grassroots members to call on EPA to ditch the flawed, and unlawful, 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule. We have come a long way in those five years, and we have much to be thankful for with this new proposed rule.

Of course, we’re not across the finish line just yet. Now is our time to ensure we have a clean water rule that gives each of us the clarity we need on our farms and ranches. Farm Bureau is calling on all you again to submit your comments to EPA and the Corps, but this time is far different than the last. This time, EPA and the Corps want to hear from you, too.

We all heard loud and clear from the EPA and the Corps that they want to hear directly from farmers and ranchers during the comment period to be sure the definitions are clear and work for agriculture.

Continue reading at The Country Today…

AGWEB: Farm Bureau President: WOTUS Fight Not Over

For the past five years, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has been telling lawmakers to “ditch the rule,” a reference to the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule under the Clean Water Act. This year, AFBF President Zippy Duvall has changed the chant to “clean water, clear rules.”

Duvall, in his annual opening address to the AFBF Convention, told Farm Bureau members from across the country that the fight over how EPA defines Waters of the U.S. is still ongoing, even though the administration of President Donald Trump has submitted a new rule which more clearly defines what waters are, and are not, regulated by the Clean Water Act. EPA released the new proposed rule that would replace the Obama-era WOTUS definition in early December. The new rule has not yet been published in the Federal Register due to the government shutdown, but once it is, the proposal will be open for public comment.

“That comment period’s not just for us that believe in this new rule,” Duvall told the AFBF audience. “It’s for everybody to comment. And let me tell you something, environmentalists hate this new rule. They like the old one… They’re going to come out in force and try to defeat this new rule and get it withdrawn.”

Continue reading at AgWeb…

CARLSBAD CURRENT ARGUS: Opinion: Clean water, clear rules

The 2015 rule was confusing and required landowners to consult with federal agencies about farming their own land. This lack of clarity is why it was never fully implemented.

Several states had sued, and won, to have the rule blocked. WOTUS left every ditch, arroyo and playa under the control of the federal government, even when they were dry.

Farmers and ranchers care about clean water. It grows our crops, provides grass for cattle and makes it possible for you to “shop local” at your near-by farmers market.

Because we want to pass our farms and ranches down to our children and grand-children, we have a vested interest in preserving and protecting all of our natural resources. That’s why we support clear rules that will protect the quality of water in our state.

Continue reading at Carlsbad Current Argus…