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AFBF files challenge to new WOTUS rule

Photo Courtesy of American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF)

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and 17 other organizations are challenging the new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule in a lawsuit. AFBF Deputy General Counsel Travis Cushman said the new WOTUS rule once again gives the federal government sweeping authority over private lands.

“So, the EPA just came out with another rule which doubles down on the significant nexus test, which is this unworkable test for jurisdiction of when the federal government regulates farms and ranches,” Cushman said. “And so, we filed our lawsuit to stop it.”

Cushman said the new rule is vague and creates uncertainty for agriculture.

“We think that a farmer and rancher should not have to hire a team of lawyers and consultants to figure out what they can and cannot farm on their land,” Cushman said. “This rule doubles down on that and we simply want to respect the limits of the Clean Water Act and what a farmer can and can’t do on their land.”

The new rule comes as the AFBF and others await a pending decision from the Supreme Court in the case Sackett v. EPA, related to a former version of the rule. Cushman said the EPA’s preemptive action adds to an already confusing situation.

“It highlights how insane it is that EPA is going through with this rulemaking now,” Cushman said. “That decision, which could come out at any time now, will likely delineate the scope of what the Clean Water Act is. For the EPA to try to jump the gun here and do something before the Supreme Court says what the proper limit is, makes no sense. And it creates more confusion in an area that has already been with confusion for the past 10 – 20 years now.”

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