A revised Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule has been released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army. The action comes after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Sackett v. EPA that rendered certain provisions of the January 2023 iteration of the rule invalid. A number of agricultural groups have expressed significant disappointment in the latest WOTUS rule. Many note that the new amendments fall short of addressing long-term issues.
“The ruling in Sackett v. EPA was a chance for EPA and the Army Corps to correct a deeply flawed, prematurely released rule and work to truly improve water quality outcomes,” said Ted McKinney, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. “It is baffling that the revised rule does not accurately address all the issues and questions raised by the Supreme Court in the Sackett decision, nor does it address many of the questions stakeholder groups raised about the WOTUS rule EPA released at the end of last year.”
The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) also expressed disappointment with the revised rule. NCFC cited the latest action as a “missed opportunity” to remedy an issue that has been the source of significant concern and litigation for several years now. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) echoed a similar sentiment.
“EPA had a golden opportunity to write a Waters of the U.S. Rule that’s fair to farmers and stands the test of time, but instead chose to continue government overreach and revise only a small slice of the rule that was rejected by the Supreme Court,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “EPA has ignored other clear concerns raised by the Justices, 26 states, and farmers across the country about the rule’s failure to respect private property rights and the Clean Water Act.”
Agricultural Retailers Association President and CEO Daren Coppock also described the new WOTUS rule as a failure in adequately addressing the issues raised over the past several months. “Repeating mistakes will only lead to the continuation of flawed, unworkable regulations that will be litigated in the federal courts,” Coppock noted. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) also confirmed the response of many in the agricultural sector.
“The agency failed to open the process to public comment and engagement, which would have been extremely valuable,” said NCGA President Tom Haag. “Instead, the agency has released a rule that does not fully respect the holdings from the recent U.S. Supreme Court case on WOTUS.”