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…

QUAD-CITY TIMES: Iowa ag community cheers new water rule

The previous rule received backlash from farmers and ag groups, who said it would have given the federal government broad regulatory authority over even the smallest collections of water on farmland. The Obama-era rule was challenged in court and was never implemented in some states, including Iowa.

The issue became a political rallying cry for Republicans, and Trump pledged to overhaul the rule. This past week, the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced what it called “a clear, understandable, and implementable definition of ‘waters of the United States’ that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act.”

The rule now must go through a public comment period.

But in Iowa’s agricultural community, the newly written rule is receiving praise.

“Like most other farmers, I think the first ‘waters of the U.S.’ was a little overreach,” Zingula said.

Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Hill, who attended this past week in Washington, D.C., the unveiling of the newly written rule, said it provides relief for all farmers and said the previous rule “threatened” Iowans’ ability to farm and hindered conservation efforts.

Continue reading at Quad-City Times…

Photo Credit: Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette

CAPITAL PRESS: New WOTUS definition an improvement

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) are delivering on the President’s agenda by proposing a new definition for waters of the U.S. 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 manage their land and water resources. Our new proposal would make it easier to understand where the Clean Water Act applies — and where it doesn’t.

Continue reading at Capital Press…

THE MISSOURI TIMES: Opinion: New clean water rule gives farmers and ranchers clear guidelines

Missouri’s farmers and ranchers may soon have clear rules about how to protect our waterways. On December 11, President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new Clean Water Rule that would fix many of the problems created by the Obama administration’s 2015 “WOTUS Rule” power grab.

Missouri farmers had many complaints with President Obama’s 2015 Waters of the United States rule. One of the strongest was that the rule was so broad and vague that almost any land could fall under it. A 2015 Missouri Farm Bureau analysis found that over 99 percent of Missouri lands could fall under the Obama rule’s jurisdiction. With such ambiguous guidelines, landowners could do everything possible to follow the law but still not know if they were committing a violation.

The EPA describes the new rule as “clear and easy to understand.” They claim it will be easier for a property owner to “understand whether a project on his or her property will require a federal permit or not, without spending tens of thousands of dollars on engineering and legal professionals.” This is welcome news to farmers. Times are tight in agriculture, and the threat of new fines or litigation looming over normal activities is the last thing they need right now.

Continue reading at The Missouri Times…

THE GREELEY TRIBUNE: Opinion: Doug Benevento: EPA seeks clarity on Clean Water Act for farmers, landowners and states

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 Colorado, a headwater state and a semi-arid region, water resources are unique compared to 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 The Greeley Tribune…

COLUMBIA DAILY TRIBUNE: Opinion: EPA seeks clarity on Clean Water Act for farmers, landowners and states

Right now, because of litigation, the 2015 definition is in effect in 22 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories, while the previous regulations, issued in the 1980s, are in effect in the remaining 28 states. This unpredictable, regulatory patchwork will not continue under the Trump Administration.

Going forward, the new definition for “waters of the United States” would establish national consistency and would rebalance the relationship between the federal government and states. States already have regulations for waters within their borders, regardless of whether they are federally regulated as “waters of the United States.” That means that the combination of the agencies’ proposal and state regulations would continue to provide coverage for the nation’s water resources as intended by Congress when it passed the Clean Water Act over 45 years ago.

Since the beginning of this administration, EPA and the Army have been committed to an open and transparent process for reviewing the definition of “waters of the United States” and the scope of federal authority under the Clean Water Act. The agencies sought feedback from a broad audience of stakeholders and have developed a proposed rule that reflects the diverse input that was submitted. The agencies’ proposal is now open for public review for 60 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.

Continue reading at Columbia Daily Tribune…

WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Opinion: Rep. Greg Walden: Abolition of the ‘WOTUS’ rule means one less burden on rural America

Thankfully, President Trump heard the concerns of America’s agriculture community and acted to rein in what he called “one of the worst examples of federal regulation.” Shortly after taking office, Trump ordered his administration to review and replace the previous definition of the “waters of the United States.” Crafted by the feedback of people on the ground, the Trump administration rolled out an encouraging new WOTUS proposal this week.

Importantly, the new proposal incorporates the input of the farmers, ranchers, and property owners who were most burdened under the previous ruling. Among the key changes: EPA’s jurisdiction will only cover wetlands that are physically and meaningfully connected to navigable waterways.

The new definition cuts most irrigation ditches out of unnecessary federal regulation. Similarly creative, collaborative efforts to maximize conservation of our water resources through groundwater recharge, or wastewater recycling will not face burdensome federal red tape. And the EPA will no longer pick and choose which individual waters they have jurisdiction over, a practice Oregonians in my district have had to put up with for far too long.

Continue reading at Washington Examiner…

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: EDITORIAL: There goes another one: Trump continues regulatory rollbacks

On Tuesday, Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency announced it would roll back Obama-era rules that, under cover of the 1972 Clean Water Act, empowered federal bureaucrats to regulate virtually every puddle, pond and drainage ditch under the guise of protecting wetlands. The result was a morass of red tape that created a nightmare for farmers, developers and other property owners.

Consider John Duarte, a Northern California farmer who faced millions in fines after bureaucrats accused him of damaging wetland features on his property simply for tilling his own land. His farm wasn’t anywhere near a “navigable waterway” as typically understood. But Mr. Duarte — who settled the allegation in 2017 — became a target after the Obama administration “attempted a massive land grab by redefining tens of millions of acres as ‘waters of the U.S.’ subject to federal jurisdiction,” The Wall Street Journal noted Tuesday.

The heavy-handed expansion of the regulatory state was a hallmark of Barack Obama’s presidency — and the nation, under his presidency, had the economy to show for it.
Continue reading at Las Vegas Review-Journal…

Photo Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

THE HILL: Opinion: EPA restores common sense to overaggressive water regulations

The Trump EPA is thankfully proposing to restore common sense to EPA regulatory authority. The agency proposes to walk back the Obama administration’s asserted authority to regulate streambeds and land depressions that are usually dry. EPA will no longer regulate wetlands unless they are “physically and meaningfully connected” to waters under EPA jurisdiction. EPA will also eliminate subjective criteria for determining whether land or water features qualify under navigable waters jurisdiction, granting individuals more certainty about how they can use their property. These corrections are long overdue, and represent another example of President Trump keeping campaign promises to reduce environmental and regulatory overreach.

Environmental activists are sounding an alarm about potential environmental harms, but their arguments are weak. EPA will still regulate all navigable waters, as well as meaningful permanent and intermittent tributaries to navigable waters. Also, very importantly, all 50 states have their own environmental laws and regulations, allowing regulation above and beyond navigable waters as defined by EPA. For normally dry streambeds, isolated depressions that only occasionally hold water, and other land features that the Obama administration sought to regulate, regulations will once again come from state and local governments that are more responsive and accountable to the people and communities being regulated.

EPA’s proposed rule will continue to provide strong environmental protection for the waterways Congress authorized EPA to regulate. At the same time, the proposed rule will roll back executive branch overreach and protect the rights of homeowners and landowners.

Continue reading at The Hill…

MCCOOK GAZETTE: Editorial: Proposed WOTUS rollback welcome change for Nebraska

Critics are decrying the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to change the definition of the “Waters of the United States” as leaving “vast amounts of wetlands and thousands of miles of U.S. waterways” without federal protection.

What’s not often mentioned is that the definition has only been in effect for three years and if tightly enforced, could cripple states like Nebraska, where a majority of the population lives in areas where many activities could require permission from Washington.

The Clean Water Act of 1972 originally protected “navigable” waters from pollution, but over the years, despite the best efforts of Congress and administrations, the Army Corps of Engineers and courts interpreted the act different in different regions of the country.

Continue reading at McCook Gazette…