Ag News

GFB submits comments on EPA's retooling of WOTUS rule

On Sept. 27 Georgia Farm Bureau submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the agency's proposed changes to the "Waters of the U.S." (WOTUS) rule issued in 2015.

The EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were directed to repeal the rule and replace it under an executive order from President Donald Trump.

In its comments, GFB pointed out that WOTUS runs contrary to congressional intent when the Clean Water Act (CWA) was passed and defies two Supreme Court rulings on federal jurisdiction under the CWA.

"In enacting the Clean Water Act, Congress exercised its commerce power over navigation and granted EPA and the Corps limited power to regulate navigable waters," GFB wrote. "Congress recognized and sought to preserve the states' authority over land and water use."

The 2015 WOTUS rule, which was challenged in court by numerous states, including Georgia, ignored the limits to regulating navigable waters.

"These assertions have limited the property rights of farmers and landowners across the country, which Congress explicitly sought to preserve by giving the states authority to regulate private land and water use," GFB wrote.

The 2015 rule placed non-navigable features like isolated wetlands, ephemeral drainages and isolated ponds under federal jurisdiction.

GFB also took the EPA to task over its propaganda campaign, "Ditch the Myth," to counter Farm Bureau's "Ditch the Rule" campaign. The Government Accountability Office concluded that the EPA's campaign was illegal.

GFB praised the agencies for repealing the rule and asked that the new rule be designed with input from state and local stakeholders. GFB also asked that the new rule include a narrow definition of "navigable waters" consistent with Justice Antonin Scalia's majority opinion in Rapanos vs. United States.