LINCOLN, NEB. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s (Corps) proposal to withdraw the controversial “Waters of the U.S.” Rule (WOTUS) has drawn praise from the Common Sense Nebraska coalition. The diverse coalition made up of Nebraska agriculture, business, and local government interests, submitted formal comments on the agencies’ plan to withdraw the WOTUS regulation, Wed., Sept. 27, according to Steve Nelson, Common Sense Nebraska coalition member and Nebraska Farm Bureau president.
“We applaud the agencies for acting to withdraw the WOTUS rule. This is exactly what our coalition has been calling for since this far-reaching, regulation was first proposed. Our message has been clear and consistent; the WOTUS rule would harm rural and urban Nebraskans and it would have caused cost increases, confusion, and uncertainty to farmers, ranchers, county governments, homebuilders, and virtually anyone who turns the earth with a shovel. The demise of this rule is long overdue,” said Nelson.
The WOTUS rule was a point of concern because of its regulatory implications, but also because of the expansion of federal authority it represented. When the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, Congress established a system which maintained state authority over land and water uses, but prohibited certain “discharges” into “navigable waters” unless authorized by a federal permit. Over the years, the EPA and the Corps have worked to slowly increase the scope of their jurisdiction by pushing a broader interpretation of what bodies of water the Clean Water Act gives them control over.
“Two important U.S. Supreme Court cases, one in 2001 and the other in 2006, reaffirmed the original limits of the Clean Water Act, reminding the agencies that Congress limited their authority only to ‘navigable waters’. Despite these court cases and legislative failures to broaden these powers, the agencies introduced the WOTUS rule vastly expanding the regulatory reach of the federal government to control all waters and waterways, and more importantly expand their powers over dryland, like farm fields, golf courses, and construction sites, where water can pool after rainfall events,” said Nelson.
The WOTUS rule was stayed by both a federal district court and a federal court of appeals due to its obvious legal flaws and the harm it would cause, particularly to the state agencies forced to implement it.
“The agencies’ failure to consider the input from state and local interests during development of the WOTUS rule ultimately contributed to its flaws, legal and otherwise. Now is the time to simply start over and develop a rule that clearly recognizes the limits of the Clean Water Act and the needs of those impacted by it,” said Nelson.
Common Sense Nebraska is a diverse, Nebraska-based coalition consisting of organizations and entities that have united in response to the EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” Rule; a regulatory proposal that would harm both rural and urban Nebraskans through expansion of the EPA’s powers and authorities under the federal Clean Water Act. The coalition’s purpose is to build awareness and understanding of the EPA proposal and the impacts it would have on Nebraskans. For more information visit Common Sense Nebraska on Facebook.
Common Sense Nebraska Coalition members include:
- AKSARBEN Club Managers Association
- Association of General Contractors - NE Chapter
- Farm Credit Services of America
- Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association
- National Federation of Independent Businesses/Nebraska
- Nebraska Agribusiness Association
- Nebraska Association of County Officials
- Nebraska Association of Resource Districts
- Nebraska Bankers Association
- Nebraska Cattlemen
- Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- Nebraska Cooperative Council
- Nebraska Corn Board
- Nebraska Corn Growers Association
- Nebraska Farm Bureau
- Nebraska Golf Course Superintendents Association
- Nebraska Grain and Feed Association
- Nebraska Grain Sorghum Association
- Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board
- Nebraska Pork Producers Association
- Nebraska Poultry Industries
- Nebraska Rural Electric Association
- Nebraska Soybean Association
- Nebraska State Dairy Association
- Nebraska State Home Builders Association
- Nebraska State Irrigation Association
- Nebraska Water Resources Association
- Nebraska Wheat Board
- Nebraska Wheat Growers Association
- Nemaha Natural Resources District
- Pawnee County Rural Water District #1