Muddy Waters

Leading up to the 2016 presidential election many farmers told me their biggest issues were selection of Supreme Court justices and the Waters of the US rule.  Donald Trump said he would get rid of the controversial 2015 rule and write a new one.  It took four years but in 2020 a new rule, widely supported by agriculture, was finally put in place.  Now the Biden administration is working on plans to write yet another WOTUS rule and it has many in agriculture apprehensive.  No one is claiming the 2020 rule is perfect however the ink was barely dry on the paper when the Biden Administration announced it was going to change it.  How do we know how good or bad it is when we weren’t given a chance to find out?  The Biden Administration’s claim of seeking a rule that will make everybody happy is a worthy goal but is unrealistic.  They are supposedly seeking a similar result with the Renewable Fuels Standard while going down the same rabbit hole previous administrations have.  They won’t admit it publicly but politicians claiming to want to please everyone are really trying to appease a certain group while trying to convince others that is will be good for them too.  Currently the 2020 rule is suspended due to a court ruling and we are operating under a 1980’s era rule.  In other words land owners face more uncertainty not knowing what they can or can’t do on their own land.  Once again much of the debate will center around the term “navigable”.  Common sense tells most of us that a stream through a field when it is raining does not meet the definition of “navigable” but as is so often the case, common sense doesn’t seem to apply here.  It comes down to who best can protect our land and water.  Farmers, the stewards of the land, believe they can.  The federal government says it can.  While we wait to see what the courts say we are left with more questions than answers.  Instead of making the waters more clear once again politics have muddied the waters.