From NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern:
“NMPF is disappointed that once again dairy farmers, who every day strive to be leaders in environmental stewardship, may need to live under a WOTUS rule that is cumbersome, unclear and overly complicated. Because the EPA’s most recent iteration fails to resolve what is now a 50-year struggle to define what constitutes a water body subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act, our members will face continued uncertainty as they attempt to comprehend and comply with unclear regulations.
“NMPF was pleased with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) and disappointed when it was revoked. NMPF is also disappointed that EPA failed to listen to numerous agriculture stakeholders that called on the agency to stay rulemaking on a new WOTUS rule until the Supreme Court ruled on the Sackett case, expected this spring.
“It’s important to note that EPA’s latest iteration is not a complete return to the unworkable rule adopted in 2015. EPA’s listed exemptions at least try to address some of agriculture’s concerns over lack of clarity. Even so, EPA is reintroducing considerable ambiguity in this version of the rule as it attempts to determine what is a “Water of the US” as seen in the treatment of ditches, ephemeral streams and groundwater, all of which were largely categorically out under the NWPR. NMPF fully anticipates continued litigation as a result of this rule. “It’s now clear that four successive administrations of both political parties have been unable to resolve this matter in a way that satisfies the broad range of stakeholders and provides long-term regulatory certainty which is badly needed. Depending on the outcome of the Sackett case this spring, it may be time for Congress to step in in a bipartisan manner to provide clarity regarding which bodies of water are under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.”