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Revised definition for ‘waters of the United States’ finalized

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today (Thursday) finalized a revised definition for “water of the United States.”

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule seemingly “protects the nation’s navigable waters from pollution and will result in economic growth across the country.”

Among those applauding this achievement is the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).

The organization was one of many farm and industry groups to strongly oppose the original 2015 Obama era Waters of the U.S. Rule (WOTUS) for its broad reach in exerting federal control. Scott Yager, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Counsel, speaks to the previous rule.

“Even if it was something that was dry most of the year, then got rained on and conveyed water downstream to something else, that would pull our guys under EPA’s jurisdiction,” Yager said. 

NCBA believes the Navigable Waters Protection Rule is a “strong step in the right direction,” as it will “boost clarity in what farm and ranch features are federally versus state and locally controlled,” according to Yager.

“We’re happy about it. And it will provide clarity to our members, as well as features that are out in our pasture land because they are no longer going to be under federal jurisdiction,” Yager said. 

Features not under federal jurisdiction include: Stock ponds, ditches, prior converted cropland and groundwater. However, Yager says the new final rule may not be the last word.

“The repeal is being litigated in New York and South Carolina in federal district courts,” Yager said. “I fully expect that this replacement rule will also be litigated by activists.”