Contact: Laura Campbell, Agricultural Ecology Department Manager
The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) final rule under the Clean Water Act (CWA) redefines what can be regulated as a Water of the United States (WOTUS) and is a massive overreach that will impact agriculture nationwide.
Michigan's delegated authority over sections of the CWA provides some protection. The Department of Environmental Quality says they believe the state's wetlands law complies with the CWA. They will continue to enforce the state law rather than change regulations, at least until EPA reviews that law. If EPA decides our law doesn't comply, we could lose our delegated authority and be in the same trouble the rest of the nation.
Use Michigan Farm Bureau's Legislative Action Center to contact your members of Congress, asking them to support legislative and legal efforts to halt EPA's overreach.
In mid-December the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a legal opinion stating the EPA broke the law with its social media and grass-roots lobbying campaign advocating for its own WOTUS rule.
Read our story for details on how this move strengthens Michigan Farm Bureau's lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the rule.
Several legislative proposals have come and gone without success. Most recently, President Obama vetoed S.J. Res. 22 in mid January, a resolution passed by both Congressional chambers showing disapproval of the WOTUS rule.
In May 2015, H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act passed the U.S. House with strong support from Michigan's delegation, but has yet to receive further attention. Similar legislation, S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, stalled in the U.S. Senate in November 2015 when they failed to pass a measure that could have ended the EPA's power grab.
Farm Bureau continues to support a legislative solution to force the withdrawal of this rule and bring EPA back to the table for meaningful discussion with states and stakeholders.
In late October, Michigan Farm Bureau announced its lawsuit against the EPA. Click here to listen to the organization's interview with WKAR.
In addition, Michigan and the American Farm Bureau Federation have joined numerous states and agricultural, business, and governmental organizations in filing suits against the rule. While an injunction was granted in one case, which temporarily prevents EPA from enforcing the rule while the case is active, the injunction only applies to the 13 states identified in the case. In the meantime, the EPA's request was denied to consolidate the cases to be heard by the District Court in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay Oct. 9 barring the rule nationwide, which gives the regulated community some breathing room to continue collecting their arguments to roll WOTUS back in its entirety.