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EPA plans to scrap Trump-era water rule

Logo courtesy of EPA

A new proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency would remove the Trump-era Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

EPA officials Thursday – along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – released a proposed rule to re-establish the pre-2015 definition of “Waters of the United States” or WOTUS. The proposed rule would scrap the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which was finalized in 2020. Farm groups such as the National Corn Growers Association say the Trump-era water rule provided long-overdue certainty and clarity for farmers affected by the scope of WOTUS jurisdiction.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack was questioned about the EPA’s announcement during a Zoom call with farm broadcasters at the 2021 NAFB Convention in Kansas City.

“I have not had a chance to see the final version,” Vilsack said. “We obviously collaborate from the perspective of making sure EPA understands the necessity of listening to those who are impacted and effected by it. I think that while it is not a total redraft of the previous rule, I think it also takes into consideration the Supreme Court decision which makes it a little bit different than either the Trump rule or Obama rule. Folks are going to have the opportunity to weigh in on this. Our challenge and our job will be to work with producers as they take a look at what they may have to do or not have to do based on compliance and figure out ways in which we can use the tools at USDA to make it easier for them to comply.”

NCGA President Chris Edgington says, “We are extremely disappointed that this administration is taking us backward by removing a rule that has provided certainty for farmers who are working to feed and power America.

Likewise, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said he is disappointed that the EPA is returning to an overly complicated interim water rule.

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