Clements: A federal court last week invalidated the Environmental Protection Agency’s and Army Corps of Engineers’ 2015 expansion of the Clean Water Rule. A group including the American Farm Bureau Federation challenged the rule in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Texas. Don Parrish, AFBF senior director of regulatory relations, says the court confirmed the rulemaking process was overreaching.
Parrish: This is a huge win for farmers and ranchers. It’s something that we’ve been saying for a long time, that this agency reached too far, and ultimately tried to turn a statute that regulates water into a land use statute.
Clements: Specifically, Parrish says the court ruled the agencies violated basic requirements of fair process when they concluded the 2015 rulemaking.
Parrish: They said you can’t bring up things just kind of out of thin air. You’ve got to give the public a full understanding of what you’re intending to do in terms of putting this rule together. The two areas that they were specific on was the distance limitations that appeared in the final rule when we were talking about defining adjacency, as well as not giving the public an opportunity to comment on the final connectivity report.
Clements: Several other legal challenges to the 2015 rule remain pending. Parrish says farmers and ranchers want a rule that’s easy to follow.
Parrish: The last thing we want is farmers inadvertently and accidentally violate the law by EPA and the Corps developing a statute that they really can’t understand or know how to comply with. So, we want clarity. We want it to be understandable, and we think what this administration is doing is trying to put something in place that provides that clarity.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.