Earlier this summer, USEPA issued its proposed rule to rescind the 2015 Waters of the US (WOTUS) rule.  This is the first of a two-part approach Administrator Pruitt plans to take to rescind and then replace the WOTUS rule.  Both parts of the plan will undergo notice and comment, and therefore, Farm Bureau and interested members will have opportunities at both times to file public comments. 

The 2015 WOTUS rule- marketed by the USEPA as the “clean water rule” had more to do with land than water.

  • ·       It was a land-grab that created confusion and uncertainty for regulators and farmers, ranchers and others who depend on their ability to work the land.
  • ·       It imposed enormous regulatory road blocks and costs for simply moving dirt in low spots on the landscape.
  • ·       The rule’s definition of “tributary” was so broad that it even included landscape features invisible to the human eye. 
  • ·       Withdrawal of the rule will not harm water quality. The rule has never been implemented because it was stayed by both a federal district court and a federal court of appeals.

The rule was challenged in multiple courts by all sides (31 states and 53 non-state parties, including environmental groups, state and local governments, farmers, landowners, developers, businesses, and recreation groups).  Challengers raised numerous substantive and procedural defects in the rule, including that the rule exceeds USEPA’s statutory authority, imposes burdensome regulatory uncertainty, was promulgated in violation of mandatory procedural requirements designed to ensure a well-informed result, and is otherwise unlawful. 

Farm Bureau leaders welcomed Pruitt’s announcement.