EPA Administrator Michael Regan Pledges To Include Farm Contribution In New WOTUS Regulations

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Speaking to attendees at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture annual meeting in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 20, Regan proposed a new timeline and said the Biden administration planned to develop its own regulations, including using lessons learned from the 2015 Clean Water Rule and the Trump administration’s 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which was overturned by a federal court.

In July, the EPA and the Corps said they would first issue a “ground rule” to reinstate pre-2015 regulations, “with updates to be consistent with relevant Supreme Court rulings.” A separate rulemaking process would follow “to refine that regulatory foundation and establish an updated and sustainable definition of” United States waters, “” the agencies said.

“The agencies will not reinstate either the (Navigable Waters Protection Rule) or the Clean Water Rule,” Regan said, reiterating the administration’s desire to make the rule “sustainable” – in other words, able to survive different administrations and the inevitable legal challenges. .

He also said that in addition to protecting water resources, any new regulations must also bring “clarity” and “safety” to farmers.

He reassured the public that exemptions for “normal farming” activities and previously converted cropland would continue.

“Normal activities of agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry, as defined by section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which could take place in a jurisdictional waterway or wetland, will not require a permit”, Regan said.

Regan has once again pledged to ensure that the farming community will be able to contribute as the administration rewrites the rule.

“Any urge to open (the rule) back or change it, I think, is going to cause a bit of heartburn,” NASDA president and Kentucky commissioner of agriculture told Agri-Pulse. , Ryan Quarles. “We’re lucky the administrator has said he wants to make sure he’s inclusive and that there are farmers and ranchers at the table. For now, that’s all that we can ask. “

The determination of the scope of “United States waters” under the Clean Water Act has been controversial for decades, but especially since former President Barack Obama’s EPA issued a new definition in 2015. The community farm was largely against the effort, as demonstrated by the American Farm Bureau Federation’s “give up the rule” campaign to oppose it.

AFBF President Zippy Duvall said after Regan’s remarks that farmers need both clarity and a rule that can stand the test of time because “they feel like a bullet. ping-pong coming and going “when they meet different regulations.

The agency has already organized several listening sessions so that stakeholders can comment on the rewrite. Regan noted that the agency is planning further talks this fall and regional roundtables this winter.

The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers announced in June their intention to revise the definition. Regan said in April that the Obama or Trump administration’s rewrites “did not listen to the will of the people.”


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