Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Department of the Army Assistant Secretary for Civil Works R.D. James announced last week the agencies have repealed the 2015 Obama Administration rule illegally expanding the definition of waters of the U.S. (WOTUS). This action by the Trump Administration restores the regulatory intent that existed prior to the 2015 rule and will end the inconsistent regulatory patchwork that has created uncertainty for landowners, farmers and businesses.
The repeal remedies the legal and procedural deficiencies of the rule, addresses extensive litigation surrounding it and reinstates the regulatory process that had been in place for years. Next in the multi-step rulemaking process is finalization of a new WOTUS definition proposed by the Trump Administration in December 2018.
Both NCBA and KLA fought the 2015 rule in the halls of Congress, in the courts and directly with EPA. NCBA President Jennifer Houston said cattle producers will sleep a little easier knowing soon there will be more certainty to the WOTUS definition.
“NCBA looks forward to the finalization of a practical waters of the United States definition that will protect our water resource while allowing cattle producers to do their jobs effectively,” said Houston.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts cosponsored bipartisan legislation to repeal the rule. Last year, he joined Wheeler to unveil the replacement WOTUS rule.
“This (Trump) administration has gone about this regulatory process the correct way: by listening to stakeholders,” said Roberts. “I look forward to reviewing the WOTUS replacement rule within the coming months.”
More work lies ahead, however, as environmental group leaders already have announced their intent to sue EPA over the repeal.