Agricultural organizations are applauding the Trump administration’s proposal to rein in what they contend was federal overreach by the Obama administration to define waters regulated under the Clean Water Act.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army on Tuesday announced they are proposing a clear, understandable and implementable definition of “waters of the United States” that clarifies which waterways are federally protected.
The rule also details which waters do not fall under federal jurisdiction — such as ephemeral streams, groundwater, most roadside or farm ditches and previously converted cropland.
Obama’s 2015 WOTUS rule has been one of the most contentious issues in farm country, resulting in numerous lawsuits against the federal government brought by states and other entities.
The new proposal clearly defines the difference between federally protected waterways and state protected waterways, Andrew Wheeler EPA acting administrator, said.
“Our simpler and clearer definition would help landowners understand whether a project on their property will require a federal permit or not without spending thousands of dollars on engineering and legal professionals,” he said.
Agricultural groups were quick to respond to the announcement, pointing out that farmers and ranchers rely on clean water and are committed to protecting the environment. The previous WOTUS rule, however, created uncertainty about which waters fell under federal jurisdiction and