Industry coalition targets WOTUS
Sept. 22, 2015
by MEAT+POULTRY Staff
WASHINGTON – A broad coalition of groups representing agricultural and industry interests filed a petition for review seeking to vacate the Clean Water Rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
The Clean Water Rule, also known as Waters of the US (WOTUS), aims to precisely define waters that are protected under the Clean Water Act. The EPA says WOTUS does not protect any new types of waters, apply to groundwater or create any new permitting requirements for agriculture, among other things. But stakeholders in industries from agriculture to mining argue the rule does not achieve its goal of providing more clarity for landholders.
The US Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY), which recently joined the action as a co-plaintiff, say numerous issues, such as determinations on the existence of a bed, bank and ordinary high water mark, threaten a poultry farmer’s ability to perform routine farming activities without fear of violating WOTUS.
“EPA and the Corp promised a rule that would give poultry and egg farmers a clear understanding of waterways that fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act,” said John Starkey, USPOULTRY president. “The final rule failed to provide that guidance, and it is imperative that we challenge this rule in support of our members.”
In July, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association announced its participation in another a separate lawsuit that accuses the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers of regulatory overreach beyond what Congress authorized in the Clean Water Act. NCBA said overturning WOTUS is a priority for the organization.
“While cattlemen have long asked for greater clarity around the Clean Water Act, this rule does the opposite, rendering jurisdictional determinations so vague and subjective that our members cannot possibly make a determination as to what basic ranching activities will subject them to criminal and civil penalties under the Clean Water Act,” Philip Ellis, NCBA president, said at the time. “We remain committed to working with the administration, Congress and through the courts to stop this rule.”
In addition to USPOULTRY, co-plaintiffs in the petition for review include the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Petroleum Institute, American Road and Transportation Builders, Leading Builders of America, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Manufacturers, NCBA, National Corn Growers Association, National Mining Association, National Pork Producers Council and the Public Lands Council.
The petition for review
was filed in the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati. The lawsuit was filed
in US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Galveston Division.