Thursday, January 26, 2023

Ag Groups File Lawsuit Over WOTUS Rule

by Andy Schwab

A total of 18 interest groups, including agriculture, oil, and housing interests, filed a 42-page lawsuit asking the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas in Galveston to vacate the final Waters of the U.S. rule.

Some of those members include the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation who have been seeking Clean Water Act clarity for many years. However, in a new federal lawsuit filed on Thursday, they say the Biden administration’s final WOTUS rule has essentially created more doubt about which waters are jurisdictional.

“The Biden administration’s WOTUS definition is an attack on farmers and ranchers and NCBA will be fighting back in court,” said NCBA Chief Counsel Mary-Thomas Hart. “The rule removes longstanding, bipartisan exclusions for small and isolated water features on farms and ranches and adds to the regulatory burden cattle producers are facing under this administration. We look forward to challenging this rule in court and ensuring that cattle producers are treated fairly under the law.”

NCBA previously filed technical comments on this rule, highlighting the importance of maintaining agricultural exclusions for small, isolated, and temporary water features, like ephemeral streams that only flow during limited periods of rainfall but remain dry the majority of the year. Regulating these features at the federal level under the Clean Water Act disrupts normal agricultural operations and interferes with cattle producers’ abilities to make improvements to their land.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall also commented today on AFBF’s legal challenge to the new Waters of the United States rule.

“Farmers and ranchers share the goal of protecting the resources we’re entrusted with. Clean water is important to all of us. Unfortunately, the new WOTUS rule once again gives the federal government sweeping authority over private lands. This isn’t what clean water regulations were intended to do. Farmers and ranchers should not have to hire a team of lawyers and consultants to determine how we can farm our land.”

The lawsuit filed on Thursday said the new WOTUS rule “imposes impossible and unpredictable burdens on landowners, users and purchasers.”

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DTN, AFBF, NCBA – 2023

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