Senate Highlights EPA Enforcement of WOTUS

Lizzy Schultz

ncba-200 The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has released a report highlighting examples of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) illegally asserting jurisdiction over features that are traditionally exempt from the Clean Water Act.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is continuing their nationwide stay on enforcement of EPA’s “waters of the United States” final rule, but according to this report, EPA is enforcing the WOTUS rule and expanding jurisdiction beyond congressional intent.

“While the Courts have temporarily suspended enforcement and implementation of the rule, the EPA continues to exercise federal control over private land in a way that erodes the agricultural exemptions in the Clean Water Act,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Tracy Brunner. “This report clearly shows that EPA continues to regulate private property, including ditches and furrows, without any statutory or legal justification.”

The report also highlights two cases where EPA took enforcement action against farming and ranching activities considered exempt from the Clean Water Act.

“While EPA has consistently claimed that the WOTUS rule preserves the exemptions for normal farming and ranching activities, their regulatory track record proves the exact opposite,” said Brunner. “The broad and undefined terms of the WOTUS rule have created regulatory uncertainty for producers and given EPA complete subjective control in defining their jurisdiction over every drop of water in the United States.”

Prior to a Senate vote on legislation to fix the WOTUS Rule, 11 Senators sent a letter to the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers asserting that they reserve the right to support efforts to revise the rule, should EPA enforcement erode traditional exemptions. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee report clearly highlights examples of the agencies doing just that. NCBA calls on these 11 Senators to work together with the Committee to forge a compromise that will bring regulatory certainty to cattle producers and preserve the agricultural exemptions of the Clean Water Act.

Ag Group, Conservation, environment, EPA, Policy, Water