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Ag industry celebrates 2015 WOTUS repeal

Ag industry celebrates 2015 WOTUS repeal

The EPA and Department of the Army will create a new WOTUS definition to provide clarity for farmers and others

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The American ag industry supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to repeal a controversial water ruling.

On Thursday, the EPA and Department of the Army announced a rollback of the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which defined the scope of waters protected and regulated by the EPA.

The repeal is the first step in redefining what WOTUS means.

“Today’s Step 1 action fulfills a key promise of President Trump and sets the stage for Step 2 – a new WOTUS definition that will provide greater regulatory certainty for farmers, landowners, home builders, and developers nationwide,” Andrew Wheeler, the EPA administrator, said in a statement.

The 2015 rule gave the federal government regulatory power over several places where water flowed – including a farmer’s field.

This legislation created confusion for farmers, said Will Rodgers, director of policy communications with the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Farmers would look out on their farmland and ask themselves where the waters of the United States are, and they couldn’t answer that question,” he told Farms.com. “To get it answered it would take lots of money to hire lawyers and consultants so (producers) could comply with the regulations. And if (a regulator) tells you to do something, as a farmer you basically have to do it or else you can’t work several acres of land.”

Repealing the 2015 rule reduces red tape and provides farmers with more clarity about water on their land, Rodgers said.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue agreed.

“Repealing the WOTUS rule is a major win for American agriculture. The extreme overreach from the (Obama administration) had government taking the productivity of the land people had worked for years,” he said in a statement yesterday. “Farmers and ranchers are exceptional stewards of the land, taking great care to preserve it for generations to come.”

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