The National Pork Producers Council applauded this week’s action by the Environmental Protection Agency to replace the unlawful 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule with a final rule called the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The final rule is fully consistent with the Clean Water Act and recent Supreme Court decisions. The EPA’s actions give farmers greater certainty, while also protecting water quality and the environment.
The previous WOTUS rule issued by the Obama administration in August 2015 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.
“We’re pleased EPA has finalized a common-sense rule, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, that works with—not against—farmers to protect our nation’s waterways,” said NPPC President David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, N.C. “The previous WOTUS rule was a dramatic government overreach and an unprecedented expansion of federal authority over private lands. 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.”
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. 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.