WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers released new proposed standards for the “waters of the United States” rule (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. The groups are proposing to replace the 2015 version set by the Obama administration. 

“Our proposal would replace the Obama EPA’s 2015 definition with one that respects the limits of the Clean Water Act and provides states and landowners the certainty they need to manage their natural resources and grow local economies,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “For the first time, we are clearly defining the difference between federally protected waterways and state protected waterways. Our simpler and clearer definition would help landowners understand whether a project on their property will require a federal permit or not, without spending thousands of dollars on engineering and legal professionals.”

In 2015 the rule was changed to expand federal protection under the Clean Water Act to include smaller streams and wetlands.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association had a positive response to the announcement.

“NCBA advocated for a new water rule that is easy to understand and implement. The Administration listened. The proposed water rule provides safeguards to keep our waters clean and clear rules for landowners to follow. We look forward to engaging with the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to finalize the rule,” said NCBA President Kevin Kester in a statement.

Both the NCBA and the National Pork Producers Council filed a complaint against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers over their “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) final rule back in 2015.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue also praised the decision in his statement.

“When I meet with the men and women of American agriculture, one of their chief concerns is always the overreach of federal regulations,” he said.  “The WOTUS rule is regularly singled out as particularly egregious, as it impedes the use of their own land and stifles productivity. Farmers and ranchers are exceptional stewards of the environment, and states have their own standards as well.”