The Environmental Protection Agency replaced the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule with a final rule called the Navigable Waters Protection Rule on Thursday.
The final rule is fully consistent with the Clean Water Act and recent Supreme Court decisions, the National Pork Producers Council says in a release. They believe EPA's actions give farmers greater certainty, while also protecting water quality and the environment.
“We are thrilled. We’ve been involved in this fight for a long time and have been helping lead the legal charge,” says Michael Formica, assistant vice president, domestic affairs and counsel.
Formica was active in pushing back against the 2015 WOTUS rule initiated by the Obama administration. The previous rule gave EPA broad jurisdiction over U.S. waters to include other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams. Most importantly, it also covered lands adjacent to waters such as farm fields.
“This is nice to finally have a new rule out that clarifies the limits of EPA jurisdiction and recognizes that private property owners have some rights and say how they use their property,“ Formica says.
NPPC opposed the 2015 WOTUS rule because it was overly broad and had significant technical flaws, including the process that EPA used to develop the rule, which violated basic due process and long-standing procedural protections, NPPC says in the release.
The Navigable Waters Protection Rule works with—not against—farmers to protect U.S. waterways, NPPC President David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, N.C., says in the release.
"The previous WOTUS rule was a dramatic government overreach and an unprecedented expansion of federal authority over private lands,” Herring says. “Today's action balances the role of federal, state and local authorities, protects property rights and provides clarity for farmers like me, while providing regulatory certainty to our farmers and businesses."
On Aug. 21, 2019, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia remanded the rule to EPA to redraft, stating that the Obama-era WOTUS rule itself violated the Clean Water Act and that the Obama administration's procedures for enacting the WOTUS rule were clearly in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.
More from Farm Journal's PORK: