As of Tuesday, September 18, four more states have been added to the list of states exempt from the 2015 Waters of the U.S. regulation. These states are Texas, Louisiana, Iowa and Mississippi. Several states have requested a court order to temporarily block WOTUS.
Following a federal judge’s ruling in South Carolina, a nationwide injunction was issued on an Environmental Protection Agency rule that delayed the implementation of the 2015 Waters of the United States rule. As a result, 26 states are now required to follow the WOTUS rule, which redefines and significantly expands which wetlands and small waterways are covered by the Clean Water Act.
In these states, the federal government has regulatory control over virtually any waters – and many land areas that only temporarily hold water. Few, if any, waters are expected to fall out of the scope of jurisdiction in these 26 states.
As a result, farmers in these states will be subject to overbroad, vague and illegal regulations on cropland and ranchland. These regulations will increase business uncertainty and farming costs. They also threaten farm profitability on existing ground and will likely prevent new agricultural activity on cropland or ranchland that potentially falls under the WOTUS jurisdiction.
The delay rule was designed to provide clarity and maintain regulatory certainty and stability while the administration reconsiders the 2015 WOTUS rule and develops new regulations to provide both clean water and clear rules.
For more information on American Farm Bureau Federation's efforts on the WOTUS rule visit: Clean Water Act, WOTUS.
John Newton, Ph.D.