Rescinding WOTUS Its not yet a done deal | EPA | Regulations | Michigan Farm News

Rescinding WOTUS - It’s not yet a done deal

Category: Opinion

by Carl Bednarski

There’s still work to do to rid the nation of the WOTUS rule
Show your support of rescinding the WOTUS rule within minutes using our easy-to-use legislative action center, with optional prewritten comments provided.

It’s safe to say that all of American agriculture breathed a huge sigh of relief on June 27, when Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt formally announced his agency had begun the process of rescinding the Obama-Era “Waters of the U.S. Rule.”

Ironically, after a lengthy two-year battle led by many Michigan Farm Bureau members in numerous congressional office visits in Washington D.C. and legal challenges in our nation’s court system, the announcement came just as many of us throughout mid-Michigan were desperately trying to save our flooded crops from torrential rainfall in excess of 12 inches the previous week.

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Carl Bednarski, MFB President

Although not popular with environmental extremists, EPA Administrator Pruitt is finally restoring order with his recent decision to begin the process of rescinding WOTUS. However, the battle isn’t over. Farm Bureau members need to stay involved in the process to see WOTUS officially rescinded.

Within the printed issue of Michigan Farm News that you’ll get in your mailbox soon, you will find a postcard that simply requires your name, address, signature and a postage stamp.

Every one of us has an opportunity and an obligation to show agriculture’s support of EPA Administrator Pruitt’s efforts to rescind WOTUS during the public comment period which ends July 25.

We can take pride in the impact Michigan Farm Bureau members made in making sure our congressional members understood how the flawed WOTUS rule gave the EPA power to regulate almost anywhere it wanted on any landscape that water might pool on or run after a rain shower.

Michigan Farm Bureau was also one of only a handful of state Farm Bureaus to challenge WOTUS in the courts. Michigan Farm Bureau, at the request of its Board and the MFB Legal Defense Fund, filed motions to intervene in both lawsuits that had been filed in the Sixth Circuit (one in the District Court for the Eastern District of Ohio and one in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals).

These legal challenges raised numerous substantive and procedural defects in WOTUS, including that the rule exceeded EPA’s statutory authority, imposed burdensome regulatory uncertainty, was promulgated in violation of mandatory procedural requirements designed to ensure a well-informed result, and it violated constitutional principles of federalism and separation of powers.

WOTUS, fortunately, was never implemented because it was stayed by both a federal district court and by the federal court of appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In issuing its nationally applicable stay of the rule on October 9, 2015, the Sixth Circuit found that the rule’s challengers had “a substantial likelihood of success” in proving the rule was illegal.

While we all recognize and want to protect clean water, extending jurisdiction to the extent that you’re regulating any water on the landscape, regardless if it’s a stream or not, is problematic. Congress didn’t give the EPA authority to regulate land use. It’s possible to have clean water without that level of intrusive regulation.

Once WOTUS is officially rescinded, our work still won’t be complete on this issue.

As we enter into Farm Bureau’s annual policy development process and county annual season, I encourage your active input and participation in helping to establish clean-water policy that Farm Bureau can use in working with the Trump Administration and members of congress on step two – evaluating alternative options that provide clarity and a common-sense approach for protecting our clean water and our farms.