This flawed rule is an egregious attack on private property rights, threatening the farm community’s ability to tend their own land, address insect and disease pressure, expand their acreage and hire more farm workers. As small farm owners in Michigan, our land means everything to us. The right to use our property as we see fit while respecting the environment not only supports our family, but it also allows us to show our children what it means to be good stewards of the earth.
The federal government has extended the public comment period on a waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule that would revert the definition of navigable waters to the pre-2015 regulation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made the announcement in a statement on the EPA website on Thursday, providing an additional 30 days to receive comments. The deadline has been extended from Aug. 28 to Sept. 27.
[John] Duarte became a cause célèbre among property-rights activists, farmers and other conservatives after running afoul of environmental laws in 2012. A judge ruled in 2016 that he violated the “Waters of the United States” provision of the Clean Water Act by “deep ripping” a Tehama County field without a permit. Duarte said he just planted winter wheat, as the previous property owners had done. But government officials said the field hadn’t been plowed in more than two decades, and he needed a permit before tearing up seasonal wetlands known as vernal pools that serve as habitat for plants and animals. Duarte and his allies, including the leader of the American Farm Bureau and Republican members of Congress, called it a classic case of government meddling with agriculture. The Trump administration already has moved to relax the WOTUS rules that the Obama administration had sought to expand, and the congressmen were pressing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to drop the case against Duarte altogether.
She also noted the EPA’s failed attempt to regulate “navigable waters” in which the federal agency asserted that it could prevent a landowner from doing anything with a wetland that was near a ditch that eventually drained into navigable water.
Both McConnell and Donnelly took jabs at the so-called Waters of the United States rule, commonly referred to as WOTUS, but in much different ways. McConnell said the rule was on its “way to the ash heap of history,” while Donnelly called for a more ground-up approach to the regulation that would put local farmers more in charge. “What I kept telling EPA on WOTUS is, look, we can hit targets; let us use our ideas on how to do it. We can figure this out better. You can’t figure it out as well sitting there as we can right here,” he said.
Every state can’t be treated the same way by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Nor should the EPA have a policy that will harm North Dakota farmers and ranchers. State officials say there needs to be a repeal of the Waters of the U.S. Rule (WOTUS) as it currently exists. Those were the bipartisan messages sent to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt during a closed-door roundtable discussion held Wednesday, Aug. 9. in Fargo. Hosted by Gov. Doug Burgum, the meeting brought together national and state officials with representatives from groups including North Dakota Farmers Union, North Dakota Farm Bureau and North Dakota Stockmen’s Association.
Flake particularly praised Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, who he said is taking a more realistic approach. He said he’s especially happy about the planned withdrawal of an EPA rule known as Waters of the United States or WOTUS regulating many more streams and wetlands. “We cannot have a situation where protecting America’s waterways involves regulating every dry ditch bed in Arizona,” Flake said. “And that’s about what the WOTUS rule would have done.”
Scott Pruitt, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, attended a closed-door roundtable discussion in Fargo on Wednesday, Aug. 9, on the federal government’s proposed revision of the Waters of the U.S. rule, known as WOTUS. Attendees of the roundtable held at North Dakota State University included North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, U.S. Sen. John Hoeven and U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, as well as representatives of a number of farm groups.