Nevada farmer: EPA’s rogue water rule threatens Nevada family farms and ranches. Here’s what can be done

By Bevan Lister, Nevada Farm Bureau President
Published by the Reno Gazette Journal

Protecting and preserving clean water are inherent to every agricultural producer. No one appreciates and values clean water more than Nevada farmers and ranchers growing crops and raising livestock in the driest state in the nation.

Nevada’s agricultural producers are on the frontlines of implementing innovative practices to safeguard our state’s precious water resources. Day in and day out, we protect every single drop of Nevada’s limited water supply to the best of our ability.

Instead of recognizing and supporting these efforts, bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. continue to try to increase federal red tape and headaches for our farmers and ranchers.

A new revision of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation called the Waters of the U.S. rule, (WOTUS), vastly expands which waters are regulated by the federal government under the Clean Water Act. This rule is the agency’s fifth attempt in the last decade and is an egregious overreach by the federal government that grants the EPA sweeping authority over nearly every wetland, stream, tributary and pond, even dry areas that rarely hold water.

As a farmer and as President of the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation, I know firsthand the commitment our farmers and ranchers demonstrate in protecting our water and environment. Our livelihoods — and the well-being of our animals, crops and families — are completely dependent on clean water.

The 2023 WOTUS rule goes far beyond the original scope of the Clean Water Act. Through vague and confusing language farmers and ranchers across Nevada will be forced to deal with uncertainty.

One of the most concerning aspects of the WOTUS rule for Nevada agriculture producers is the inclusion of ephemeral waters, or dry land that only sees water flow in times of high precipitation. The new WOTUS definition means thousands of acres of Nevada farmland would now be federally regulated.

The flawed rule completely ignores the fundamental role the Clean Water Act gave to state governments to enact state-specific water protections. It circumvents the law, federally regulating nearly every piece of land that potentially might hold water. Nevada’s water needs are extremely complex. We are much better directed by Nevada officials who can manage the intricacies of Nevada water.

We greatly appreciate that our U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen boldly broke with their party and voted in favor of a congressional resolution to overturn this unlawful rule. Yet the resolution was vetoed by the president.

We need Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen to continue to support Nevada’s agriculture producers — and the state’s builders, manufacturers and small businesses — by using every tool possible to push back on this federal overreach. Just a couple of months ago, the EPA requested $12 billion from Congress — a nearly 20 percent increase in the agency’s budget — to further its environmental agenda. This includes enforcing their WOTUS rule.

We urge the Nevada delegation to stop its funding and work with Congressional colleagues to deliver a fix to create transparency and clarity in the federal agency’s role with WOTUS.