EPA releases amended WOTUS rule

The Environmental Protection Agency has amended the Waters of the U.S. Rule.  EPA’s Agricultural Advisor Rod Snyder tells Brownfield, “We’re basically, specifically addressing the removal of the significant nexus test as well as the adjacency test for wetlands. Those are things the Supreme Court was very clear about.”

Snyder says the “relatively permanent” test that was in place since the Rapanos v. United States decision more than 15 years ago remains in place, as well as the agricultural exemptions announced at the beginning of the year. “Even before this amended final rule, we had already made it clear that those were outside the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act based on the rulemaking that was finalized in January. All of those exclusions remain intact.”

Some streams and wetlands may no longer be jurisdictional, but Snyder says farmers and landowners are welcome to contact the Corps of Engineers to determine if a wetland or water feature is regulated by WOTUS.

EPA will hold an informational webinar about the amended rule on September 12th.

The amended rule will take effect immediately after publication in the Federal Register later this week.

INTERVIEW: Rod Snyder from the EPA discusses the amended WOTUS rule with Brownfield’s Larry Lee.


Agricultural groups are both skeptical and critical of the amended WOTUS rule. 

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says the organization is pleased the significant nexus test has been eliminated, but it’s disappointed the EPA has ignored concerns over the rule’s failure to respect private property rights and the Clean Water Act. In a statement, he said, “EPA had a golden opportunity to write a Waters of the U.S. Rule that’s fair to farmers and stands the test of time, but instead chose to continue government overreach and revise only a small slice of the rule that was rejected by the Supreme Court…Farmers and ranchers share the goal of protecting the resources they’re entrusted with. They deserve a rule that respects farmers as partners in that effort.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Chief Counsel Mary-Thomas Hart says the revised definition is an important step toward bringing the EPA more in line with the Supreme Court ruling. In a statement, she said, “NCBA looks forward to working with the agency to protect farmers and ranchers from burdensome regulations and provide them with lasting certainty on WOTUS…we will continue analyzing this latest development to ensure that cattle producers are protected.”

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture says the rule misses the mark for states’ rights. In a news release, CEO Ted McKinney said, “The ruling in Sackett v. EPA was a chance for EPA and the Army Corps to correct a deeply flawed, prematurely released rule and work to truly improve water quality outcomes. It is baffling that the revised rule does not accurately address all the issues and questions raised by the Supreme Court in the Sackett decision, nor does it address many of the questions stakeholder groups raised about the WOTUS rule EPA released at the end of last year.”

Glenn “GT” Thompson, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, issued a statement saying, “America’s farmers, ranchers, and landowners have come under regulatory assault from the Biden Administration. The Supreme Court rightfully curtailed EPA’s regulatory overreach, however, EPA’s bureaucratic sleight-of-hand circumventing the rulemaking process leaves the door open to agency abuse and regulatory and legal uncertainty for American agriculture. Our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and landowners are excellent stewards of their land and understand that clean water and private property rights can coexist without burdensome overreach from the federal government.”

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