EPA Asks States for Input on New WOTUS Rule
Washington—The Environmental Protection Agency is asking states what they think the new Waters of the US rule should look like.
EPA and the US Army sent letters to state governors earlier this week asking them for input on a new definition of protected waters. The want the states to write proposed rules that are in line with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the 2006 Rapanos v. United States case. Scalia’s definition explains that federal oversight should extend to “relatively permanent” waters and wetlands with a “continuous surface connection” to large rivers and streams.
“I applaud EPA Administrator Pruitt and his team for following through on President Trump’s commitment to rolling back federal overreach and treating states more like the partners we’re supposed to be in our system of government,” Governor Otter said.
Farmers and ranchers welcomed EPA’s outreach.
“ I think this is an important, first step towards the restoration of law in environmental regulation. A distant and unaccountable Washington bureaucracy has too often punished farmers and ranchers for alleged infringements that have no basis in law,” said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Duvall continued, “We agree that this is the right way to proceed: Regulation must be done with an open door and open mind. We look forward to working with the states, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to set things right once more.”
EPA’s request for state feedback comes a few months after President Donald Trump issued an executive order to ditch the WOTUS rule. Duvall said Trump’s action was a “welcome relief to farmers and ranchers across the country.”
“The Environmental Protection Agency failed to listen to farmers’ and ranchers’ concerns when drafting the rule and instead created widespread confusion for agriculture. Under the rule, the smallest pond or ditch could be declared a federal waterway,” Duvall said in a statement regarding the WOTUS executive order.
“Our agencies will work together on crafting a recommendation to the EPA that reflects the primary role of local and state interests in managing our water resources,” said Governor Otter.
Farm Bureau supports EPA’s withdrawal of the 2015 rule and is urging the agency to replace it with one that conforms to the regulatory limits approved by Congress and affirmed by the Supreme Court.