New WOTUS Rule Creates More Confusion for Farmers and Ranchers
The EPA’s new Waters of the U.S. Rule will replace the Navigable Waters Protection Rule put in place during the Trump Administration. Courtney Briggs, senior director of government affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation, says AFBF is extremely disappointed in the new rule.
"This rule does not provide the needed clarity and certainty that the regulated community has long called for. This rule allows the federal government to expand their jurisdictional reach over private property," Briggs said. "It is clear that the agencies have doubled down on their use of the troubling significant nexus test, which will require landowners to hire environmental consultants, attorneys and engineers to ensure that they are in compliance."
Briggs says when the federal government expands its reach, the amount of permitting that farmers and ranchers are subject to gets worse.
"Since this rule relies on case-by-case determinations and ambiguously-defined terms, it is incredibly difficult for a farmer to understand if they have a jurisdictional feature on their property," Briggs said. "There are civil and criminal liabilities attached to Clean Water Act compliance, and that is why it's so incredibly important to have a clear line of jurisdiction."
The new WOTUS rule now goes into effect 60 days after it’s published in the Federal Register.
"We will be looking to the Supreme Court for a decision in the Sackett case, which will provide some clarity on the use of the significant nexus test," Briggs said. "The agencies have stated that today's rule is a durable rule, but it is very likely that they will have to make changes to the rule in response to a decision from the high court next year."
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