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Revision Continues of WOTUS Rule Opposed by NMPF

August 4, 2017

In a welcome development for NMPF and other farm groups concerned with the flawed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corp of Engineers last week formally began the process of withdrawing the controversial 2015 regulation. NMPF intends to file comments in support of EPA’s plan to rescind the rule, and will continue to engage with EPA as a second, revised regulation is issued later this year.

Earlier this year, the incoming Trump Administration ordered a review of the WOTUS rule in response to concerns many farm groups had raised since the measure was finalized in 2015.  Because the WOTUS regulation significantly expanded the EPA’s authority over waterways used by farmers for drainage and irrigation, the measure was challenged in a federal appeals court and ultimately put on hold last year.

This latest development on July 27 is part of a plan outlined this spring by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to initiate a public rulemaking to rescind WOTUS, and in the interim, revert to following laws governing water protection that were first enacted in 1986. NMPF agrees with the EPA that the agency needs to proceed in this manner.

EPA will accept comments on the rescission of the 2015 WOTUS rule until Aug. 28, 2017.  This winter, EPA will issue a proposal to modify the 1986 rule so that it focuses on a logical and reasonable interpretation of the Clean Water Act and related judicial opinions.