January 23, 2020
EPA and Corps finalize new rule on WOTUS giving farmers and ranchers clarity
WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced the final rule for the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The rule provides clarity to the federal-state partnership for the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. The rule responsibly outlines the jurisdiction of federal, state, and local authorities and appropriately respects states like Idaho that have robust state agencies like the Department of Environmental Quality.
“Today’s announcement by the EPA will rebalance the relationship between the federal government and state and local on-the-ground experts for effective and environmentally-sound water quality management policies,” said Senator Crapo. “President Trump’s Administration has taken decisive action on limiting federal overreach, and has brought regulatory certainty to Idaho farmers, ranchers and businesses who have been impacted by the old WOTUS definition.”
“After years of overreach and uncertainty, Idaho’s farmers, ranchers, and landowners will finally have a rule that doesn’t confuse truly navigable waters with ditches and puddles,” said Senator Jim Risch. “I applaud President Trump’s work to roll back this egregious overstep by the Obama administration and empower states to manage and protect their natural resources.”
“During the last Administration, I heard consistent concerns from farmers, ranchers, small businesses, governors, and many others about the extremely broad definition of ‘waters of the United States’ under the Clean Water Act,” said Representative Mike Simpson. “During Congressional hearings and meetings in my office, I received no clarity between federal and state jurisdiction over which waters were regulated by who. That is why I am pleased the EPA and the Corps took note of those concerns and rewrote the rule in a way that maintains critical protections under the Clean Water Act, while also appropriately delegating state and local jurisdictions in charge of regulating smaller bodies of water, as the law was intended. I have great confidence in the State of Idaho given their experience and increased responsibility with State primacy.”
“The Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule was the definition of federal overreach and an attempt to control Idaho’s waterways. As I’ve followed water policy during my tenure in the Idaho state legislature, I understand that federal mandates do not work for Idahoans,” said Representative Russ Fulcher. “I commend the Trump Administration for keeping their promise and reestablishing the appropriate state authority in relation to the Clean Water Act. This new rule will help Idaho farms, businesses, and other job creators so our state can continue to thrive as an economic leader in our nation.”
The rule is welcome news in Idaho after many diverse stakeholders weighed in during the last Administration with concerns. The Idaho Delegation had been a key proponent of a rewrite of the rule to more responsibly reflect the role of state and local jurisdictions.
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