President Joe Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week it is poised to reverse former President Donald Trump’s Navigable Waters Protection Act that helped farmers and ranchers avoid penalties based on arbitrary definitions of navigable waters that could apply to rainwater puddles, seasonal ponds, and other natural water formations.
DTN covered the reaction to the EPA’s move:
The Biden EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in a news release Wednesday the Trump rule has led to a degradation in protection of waters. The agencies asked a federal court to remand the Trump rule, to allow for what will be the third rewrite in the past 12 years.
American Farm Bureau Federation President said in a statement late Wednesday his group was “extremely disappointed” in the decision to move on from the Trump rule that he said “brought clarity” to farmers and ranchers.
“Administrator (Michael) Regan recently recognized the flaws in the 2015 waters of the U.S. rule and pledged not to return to those overreaching regulations,” Zippy Duvall said.
“We are deeply concerned that the EPA plans to reverse the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which puts the future of responsible protections at risk,” said Duvall, a third-generation Georgia farmer. “We expected extensive outreach, but today’s announcement fails to recognize the concerns of farmers and ranchers.”
Regan just recently visited North Dakota where he met with federal and state lawmakers, environmentalists, and farmers, the website reported.
Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) said in a statement he hoped the EPA would consider the impact on farmers and ranchers before drafting a rule.
“The waters of the United States rule (2015) would have been a disaster for North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers,” Armstrong said in a statement. “The Trump administration was right to revise the WOTUS (waters of the U.S.) rule and put forward a policy that strikes a balance to keep our waters clean without destroying thousands of North Dakotans’ livelihoods.”
“I am grateful to Administrator Regan for coming to North Dakota and listening to our concerns on this rule, and I urge the Biden administration to consider the harm to our communities that going back to failed one-size-fits-all policies would cause,’ Armstrong said.
“The agency filed a motion for remand of the Trump rule on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts — one of several ongoing legal cases,” DTN reported. “The Biden administration had until May 2021 to conduct a review of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.”
Tony Francois, senior counsel for the Pacific Legal Foundation, said in the DTN report that federal agencies for decades have used a “comically expansive definition of both ‘navigable’ and ‘water’” to “impose their regulatory control over vacant lots in built-out subdivisions, mud puddles on private property, seasonal ponds on farms and ranches, and foot-wide trickles deep in the woods.”
Francois said the Trump water rule adopted a “substantially narrower” definition of navigable waters that reduced the reach of the Clean Water Act.
“The proper scope of the Clean Water Act is a matter of legal principle, not politics, and it is beyond time for the federal courts to clarify and reasonably limit its scope,” Francois said.
Regan has said the Trump rule — which was popular with agriculture interests — is “leading to significant environmental degradation.”
The EPA said the new rule would reflect the:
experience of and input received from landowners, the agricultural community that fuels and feeds the world, states, tribes, local governments, community organizations, environmental groups, and disadvantaged communities with environmental justice concerns.
The left-wing Earthjustice activist group said Biden has not gone far enough to protect “all” water.
“We are urging the EPA to swiftly extend full clean Water Act protections to all the nation’s waters, as they are urgently needed to stop destruction from industry polluters caused by Trump’s dirty water rules,” Julian Gonzalez, legal counsel for the group, said.
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