AL.COM: Opinion: EPA seeks clarity on Clean Water Act for farmers, landowners and states

Concern has been raised that burdensome and excessive federal regulations can delay or prohibit American businesses from investing in infrastructure or land development projects that will create jobs, grow crops, and improve how we manage our natural resources. Upon taking office, President Trump initiated a process to review and replace unnecessary regulatory barriers, which included the Obama Administration’s 2015 “waters of the United States” definition.

For years, farmers, landowners, municipalities, and businesses have been spending too much time and money trying to determine whether waters on their land are “waters of the United States” and subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act. In some cases, they pay consultants or lawyers tens of thousands of dollars only to discover that they need federal permits that cover isolated ponds, channels that only flow after it rains, and wetlands far removed from the navigable waters the Clean Water Act was specifically designed to regulate.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army are delivering on the President’s agenda by proposing a new definition for “waters of the United States.” The agencies’ proposal would end years of uncertainty over where federal jurisdiction begins and ends. It would clarify the role of our state and tribal partners—those closest to and most knowledgeable about their own waters—and help them more effectively and efficiently manage their land and water resources. Also, it would respect the limited powers that the federal government has been given under the Constitution and the Clean Water Act to regulate navigable waters.

Our new proposal would make it easier to understand where the Clean Water Act applies – and where it does not. It would facilitate critical infrastructure projects, reduce barriers to business development, and support economic growth. This clarity is critically important to the southeast where we are recovering from several natural disasters which impacted infrastructure and where we are experiencing significant business and economic growth.

Continue reading at AL.com…

THE WEST VIRGINIA RECORD: Our View: At last, someone’s regulating the regulators at the EPA

For eight long years of ideological warfare many states have argued that rainwater runoff, ditches, and puddles are not bodies of water, much less navigable ones, and that federal bureaucrats have no right trying to define them as such so as to establish their authority over every inch of private property in this country.

Three years ago, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and AGs from other states persuaded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati to issue a stay preventing the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from issuing their Waters of the United States rule with its absurdly broad, and ominous, interpretation of “navigable waters” and “bodies of water.”

Morrisey was on hand in the Oval Office last year when President Trump signed an executive order directing the EPA and the Corps to review the rule, prepare to rescind it, and suspend litigation regarding it.

Continue reading at The West Virginia Record…

DESERET NEWS: Guest opinion: Utah benefits from clarity on Clean Water Ac

Our new proposal would make it easier to understand where the Clean Water Act applies — and where it does not. It would facilitate critical infrastructure projects, reduce barriers to business development and support economic growth.

In Utah, a headwater state and a semiarid region, water resources are unique compared with other parts of the country. I encourage landowners, businesses, community members and organizations to consider how this definition would affect the water on your properties and in your watersheds.

Under the proposal, traditional navigable waters, tributaries, certain lakes and ponds, impoundments of jurisdictional waters, wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters and certain ditches, such as those used for navigation or those affected by the tide, would be federally regulated. More importantly, many ditches, including most roadside or farm ditches, would be excluded from federal regulation. Ephemeral streams — those that only flow after it rains — would also not qualify as waters of the United States.

Continue reading at Deseret News…

NASHVILLE TENNESSEAN: EPA, Agriculture leaders rally farmers in Wilson County for clean water rule replacement

Top federal officials traveled to the Wilson County fairgrounds outside of Nashville Tuesday to promote the Trump Administration’s proposal to weaken a federal clean water regulation.

Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue called on Tennessee farmers to engage in the contentious debate.

Trump officials want to limit which bodies of water are subject to the Clean Water Act, the 1972 landmark legislation that protects streams, rivers and other bodies of water from uncontrolled development and pollution.

Last week, Wheeler announced a proposal to replace the Obama administration’s 2015 rule defining “Waters of the United States.” Under the new proposal, some streams would no longer fall under federal jurisdiction, for instance, because they only flow during rainstorms (so-called “ephemeral” streams) or are isolated from other waterways.

Continue reading at Nashville Tennessean…
Photo Credit: Mike Reicher

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Farmers asked to support Trump rollback of water rules

The Trump administration is calling on farmers to throw their support behind a proposal to withdraw federal protections for many of the country’s waterways and wetlands.

Environmental Protection Agency acting administrator Andrew Wheeler and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue on Tuesday traveled to Tennessee to drum up support among the state’s agricultural community.

Wheeler says he anticipates the new rule will likely draw more than a million responses once the agency opens the new rules up for public review. He’s urging farmers, businesspeople and other key stakeholders to make sure their voices are heard.

Continue reading at The Associated Press…

HIGH PLAINS/MIDWEST AG JOURNAL: Opinion: Bogus WOTUS no more

On Dec. 12, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rolled out its updated “Waters of the United States” rule. Before you roll your eyes, let me explain.

You may remember that this rule was botched by the Obama administration’s EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. It was an overstep of the original intent of the Clean Water Act that not only upset farmers and ranchers, it got the goat of pretty much anyone who owns land in America.

One of the key problems of the “Bogus WOTUS” rule, as some branded it on social media, was the rule’s vagueness.

Does a creek that is dried up during different times of the year count as a covered water? The answer was unclear.

Now, the new rule will provide greater clarity in what constitutes and what does not constitute a “Waters of the U.S.”

Continue reading at High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal…

AGUPDATE: Opinion: Revised WOTUS rule a win for landowners, ag community and states’ rights

Between the weather, market prices and crop production, farmers and ranchers are already faced with significant uncertainty as they seek to make a profit while feeding and fueling the world.

The last thing they need is more uncertainty and overregulation from the federal government. Fortunately, over the past two years, we’ve made significant progress undoing many of the damaging regulations from the previous administration and enacting smarter policies to help our producers flourish and thrive. A recent example is the revised Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which the Trump administration announced earlier this week.

WOTUS is a rule that seeks to define the bodies of water that will be regulated under the Clean Water Act of 1972. Originally drafted by the Obama administration, the original WOTUS rule replaced a standard definition of a body of water with a vague definition in which a bureaucrat would make a decision on whether water could be regulated on a case-by-case basis. This vagueness and uncertainty was deeply troubling to many of us who recognized it as a massive power grab by the federal government seeking to expand its power over private property.

The revised WOTUS rule gives farmers, ranchers and landowners the certainty they need to know exactly when the Clean Water Act applies to them and when it does not. It adapts the ‘ordinary meaning’ of the term navigable water – essentially oceans, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and adjacent wetlands – and clarifies that not all water is ‘waters of the U.S.’ Landowners are already good stewards of our land. We don’t need unelected bureaucrats in Washington making ambiguous decisions about land they are not familiar with.

Continue reading AgUpdate…

THE HILL: Opinion: Clear Water Rule means relief for farmers, ranchers

In 2015 the Obama administration created a “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule that was so broad and vague that almost any spot where rainwater flows or pools might be tagged as a federally protected body of water. With the stroke of a pen, farmers and ranchers across the heartland suddenly did not know if state or federal law applied to their lands and what their compliance obligations would be. Like many of our stakeholders and constituents, we immediately saw the enormous consequences of this egregious regulatory overreach.

The Clean Water Act is a flagship statute—and like many laws, it works best when its requirements are clear. This law carries penalties north of $50,000 for any activity that puts any “pollutant”—including dirt—into any regulated water. It certainly seems fair to let the people who make a living on the land know where those regulated waters are, especially when civil and criminal penalties come into play. What’s more, by telling people where the federally regulated waters are, we give them the information they need to comply with the law.

That’s why we’re pleased that the new Clean Water Rule proposed last week by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers will have a new hallmark: clean water and clear rules.

Based on what we see in the proposal, the new rule will do a better job of explaining which waters are regulated. It is broad enough to be very protective. It draws a clear enough line to provide fair notice. And it focuses mostly on things that look like water—not regulating land. No law or regulation is ever perfect, but we applaud the EPA and the Corps of Engineers for their diligence in putting forth a reasonable, common-sense proposal to protect our nation’s waters.

Continue reading at The Hill…

WHEELING NEWS-REGISTER: Letters to the Editor: Support New Rules

Many farms in the U.S. have been in the family for three, four, five and six generations or more. Most states have Century Farms programs, which recognize farms that have been in the same family for more than 100 years. In 2013 there were 15,000 Century Farms in Iowa, 9,800 in Illinois, 8,583 in Wisconsin and 8,000 each in Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska, just to name a few.

This says a lot about farmers’ and ranchers’ incentives to protect the natural resources on their land. We want to protect the land and water resources on our farms and ranches because we want to leave something of inherent and lasting value for generations to come. It doesn’t end with us. We want to leave behind more than a business, we want to leave a legacy.

Farmers and ranchers support clear rules that will protect water quality in our nation’s waterways. We are encouraged that EPA has proposed a new water rule aimed at providing a clear and reasonable definition of “waters of the U.S.” and protecting our nation’s water resources for future generations.

EPA will open a public comment period (we anticipate in January 2019) to take comments on the new water rule for at least 60 days. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out when the comment period opens. Let EPA know you support clear rules and clean water by leaving a comment.

Continue reading at Wheeling News-Register…

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS: Proposed Waters of the United States guidelines praised as good for Alabama farmers, landowners

Federal officials proposed new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) guidelines on Monday to help protect farmers and landowners from intrusive government regulations, per a release from the Alabama Farmers Federation.

In their proposal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers clarified federal authority under the Clean Water Act.

Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell applauded the newly proposed definition, which excludes ditches from regulation unless they contribute flow to a perennial or intermittent stream.

“The proposed rule is good news for Alabama farmers and restores common sense to Clean Water Act enforcement,” Parnell said.

He continued, “For several years, farmers, businesses and homeowners have lived under the threat of government intrusion and costly penalties due to overaggressive actions of the Obama-era EPA. We appreciate the Trump administration, current EPA administration, Alabama’s congressional delegation and our state attorneys general for standing by farmers and landowners as we’ve fought back against the WOTUS rule.”

Continue reading at Yellowhammer News…