New water rule will create uncertainty and disruption – January 4, 2023
January 4, 2023–The administration’s December 30, 2022 announcement to replace the Navigable Waters Protection Rule with yet another Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule, will create uncertainty and disruption in the management of natural resources, according to the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation.
“As farmers and ranchers, we share the goal of protecting the nation’s water,” said Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) President Todd Fornstrom. “Reverting to a rule that was unreasonable and unworkable is a threat to the nation’s water. The 2015 Rule made conservation more difficult and created huge liabilities for farmers and ranchers.”
Fornstrom, a Laramie County farmer, emphasized Farm Bureau Federation members have a deep interest in water quality.
“We deeply value protecting water resources; our farms and ranches are water-dependent enterprises,” he said. “Water quality is also a deep family value; my wife and I raised our family drinking from a well on our farm.”
Fornstrom said it is essential to preserve the Clean Water Act’s partnership among federal, state and local regulators.
“The CWA requires the federal government to work hand-in-hand with states, because the federal government cannot and should not regulate every single wet feature in every community,” he said. “Unfortunately, this new rule will revert to the old significant nexus test which creates regulatory uncertainty on private land miles from the nearest navigable water.”
Fornstrom said this new rule puts property rights at risk and does nothing to benefit water. “We know the importance of clean water, and farmers and ranchers work hard to protect our natural resources every day,” Fornstrom said. “Farm Bureau cannot overstate the concern we have with a rule that complicates the lines of jurisdiction so deeply that farmers and ranchers will need to hire an army of consultants and lawyers to use their land.”
According to WyFB, the timing of this announcement is even more puzzling as the Supreme Court will be issuing a decision on the scope of the Clean Water Act. “A ruling in the Sackett case could send WOTUS back to the drawing board, so it makes no sense for EPA to issue a rule that will only cause more disruption and uncertainty,” Fornstrom explained.
The Navigable Waters Protection Rule provided clarity and common-sense limitations to federal water jurisdiction. “Now with the back and forth over water regulations the management of natural resources is threatened,” Fornstrom concluded.
The mission of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation is to represent the voices of Wyoming farmers and ranchers through grassroots policy development while focusing on protecting private property rights, strengthening agriculture, and supporting farm and ranch families through advocacy, education, and leadership development.