The EPA has withdrawn the interpretive rule as part of their Waters of the US proposal, but this is only a partial victory. Farm groups say the fight to eliminate the rule must continue. Don Villwock, President of Indiana Farm Bureau, said in a statement, “While we are pleased with this announcement, the expansion of federal jurisdiction in the WOTUS rule has not disappeared. We encourage our members to continue to voice their opposition to redefining the scope of the Clean Water Act to their members of Congress.”
Colin Woodall with the NCBA says the removal of the interpretive rule will make it harder for the EPA to hide its real agenda, “What the interpretive rule was supposed to do is tell farmers and ranchers they would not be harmed by the WOTUS rule. It was really a smokescreen because it did not actually protect producers from the impact of the WOTUS rule.” He added, by removing this rule, what EPA administrator McCarthy is really trying to do is revealed. As written, the interpretive rule would have reduced exemptions for normal farming practices given to farmers by Congress.
EPA is currently reviewing the public comments submitted last year when the WOTUS rule was announced. Woodall says that make take a while, “As we understand it, there were over 1 million comments submitted, about 50% against the rule and about 50% in favor of the rule. Villwock said, “Indiana Farm Bureau commends everyone for their efforts, in both commenting to the agencies and reaching out to their members of Congress.” But he added there is still a lot of work to do.
Woodall is optimistic the new Congress will be watching the EPA action very closely, but urges farmers to keep the pressure on until this proposed rule is abandoned, “The 114th Congress is in favor of fixing the WOTUS rule, and that means passing legislation that stops this proposal cold.” He said there is support on both sides of the aisle to stop the EPA from moving forward with this rule, but he urged all farmers to continue to make their concerns known to lawmakers.