AFBF applauds EPA delay of 2015 WOTUS rule

The action prevents the rule from going into effect as EPA and Army Corps of Engineers reconsider and rewrite it.

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American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall applauded the two-year delay in implementing WOTUS, saying the rule could’ve cost farmers lawsuits and penalties for common activities, such as plowing a field. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)

By Deana Stroisch

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers this week finalized a rule that makes the 2015 “waters of the U.S” (WOTUS) rule applicable in two years.

Doing so prevents the 2015 rule from going into effect as the federal agencies reconsider and rewrite it.

“Today, EPA is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation.”

The rule went into effect in August 2015, but was quickly challenged by various trade associations, states and environmental groups. A North Dakota judge granted a temporary injunction in 13 states, not including Illinois. In a separate matter, 18 states challenged the validity of the final rule. Their cases were consolidated and transferred to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ordered a nationwide stay.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that federal district courts – not courts of appeals – have jurisdiction to review the 2015 “waters of the U.S.” rule. The Supreme Court opinion, written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, orders the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss petitions for review for lack of jurisdiction.

Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president, applauded delay of the WOTUS rule.

“Without today’s action, countless farmers and ranchers, as well as other landowners and businesses, would risk lawsuits and huge penalties for activities as common and harmless as plowing a field,” he said.

Related: Chicago EPA regional office to remain open. Read more here.

Audio: More reaction to the delay from AFBF Senior Director of Regulatory Relations Don Parrish.

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