Trump Administration Moves to Rescind Waters of the U.S. Rule

In a move supported by NMPF and other farm groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced they are taking initial steps to rescind the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which expanded federal authority to place certain waters under the Clean Water Act. The rule – suspended last year by a district court – frustrated dairy farmers and state attorneys general around the nation with its ambiguity and potential for serious regulatory overreach. NMPF, which repeatedly asked EPA to rewrite the rule, applauded EPA and the Trump Administration for recognizing the flaws in the existing regulation.

In May, NMPF told EPA to repeal the existing rule and implement a separate one that both closely adheres to the language in the Clean Water Act (CWA) and aligns with recent Supreme Court decisions that prompted EPA to issue the rule in the first place. NMPF will provide input to EPA on the action to rescind the current rule, as well as engage in the rulemaking process to redraft the previous language, once EPA initiates that action.  

“NMPF is pleased by EPA’s action in tackling what most farmers in the nation viewed as a highly flawed rule,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We are confident that this time EPA and the Corps will get it right, thanks to input from NMPF and other agriculture organizations.”

The original WOTUS regulation, proposed in April 2014, established federal authority over “navigable” U.S. waters, but was later expanded to include upstream waters and streams, which farmers often use for drainage and irrigation. NMPF was not satisfied with the EPA’s first attempt to develop the regulation, and supported efforts to halt its implementation.

In total, 11 lawsuits were brought in federal district courts against EPA, and another 14 petitions were filed in U.S. Courts of Appeals around the nation. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court halted the rule indefinitely to determine which courts have jurisdiction over the matter.