NCBA, Environmental Groups Prepare to Touch Gloves as Effort to Revamp WOTUS Rule Heats Up
Oklahoma Farm Report
07 Jan 2019
One of the most contentious issues that the agriculture industry has been fighting for several years now, the beef industry in particular, is the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States rule that was implemented in 2015 by the Obama Administration. This controversial rule was and remains largely thought of by ag and business stakeholders to be nothing short of an overreaching land grab by the administration that imposed it. Since then, organization’s like the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association have been lobbying against the bill on Capitol Hill and in the courts. A court ordered stay suspended the rule for a while as the new Trump Administration mobilized its efforts to repeal and replace the Obama era remnant. However, a recent decision by a South Carolina judge reversed that stay, resurrecting the 2015 WOTUS and making it the law of the land once again for more than 20 states - including Oklahoma. Work by the Trump EPA continues to advance its agenda that in rare form actually aligns with that of agricultural producers, to revamp the WOTUS rule and tone down its policies that infringe on private property rights. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with Chief Environmental Counsel for NCBA Scott Yager, for his latest update on the status of that effort, here at the beginning of the new year.
“The old 2015 Obama era WOTUS rule is still the law on the books and that doesn’t change until the Trump Administration finalizes either the repeal proposal, which they’ve had in process for over a year and a half now, or the replacement proposal,” Yager explained. “Once one of those gets finalized, we’ll kick the 2015 Obama rule off the books once and for all.”
As simple as that sounds, Yager points out the existing rule’s many advocates are prepared to litigate any attempted changes to the regulation at every turn. This, he says, is an inevitability and one that NCBA and other stakeholders opposing the 2015 rule must also prepare for and be willing to fight relentlessly in court. According to Yager, the coalition of environmental groups that oppose changing the current rule have taken that position because they have learned they are able to effectively bypass the legislative system and regulate through the courts. Yager explains that the greater control the federal government has, the more effective this tactic is. The ensuing court battles, though, will be worth it in Yager’s mind, who insists the newly proposed rule by the Trump Administration is a significant improvement to the original rule...
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