The first step in a two-part process to repeal and rewrite the waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule is under way, a move hailed by farm groups and farm state legislators. The U.S. EPA is proposing to repeal the previous administration’s rule, which expanded the definition of which waters the federal government could regulate.

The Obama Administration’s rule never took effect because it was stayed by both a federal district court and a federal court of appeals. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the challengers to the rule "...demonstrated a substantial possibility of success on the merits of their claims...” and stayed the rule from going into effect until it issues a final ruling.

IFBF President Craig Hill asks farmers to comment to the EPA in support of its proposal to ‘ditch the rule.' Members need to comment to EPA by August 28. Hill and seven other Iowa farm group leaders met recently with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to discuss the rule. Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey also met with Pruitt and reporters. 

Once all public comments have been reviewed by the EPA, the federal agency is expected to propose a new definition of a federal water that can be regulated. This second step in the process is expected next year.

Iowa State Fair Petition

Members attending the Iowa State Fair can sign a petition at Farm Bureau Park supporting the repeal of the WOTUS rule. The petition is also available online at the button below.


Members can also submit additional comments directly to the EPA at this link . Members commenting to the EPA should tell the agency that withdrawal of the rule will not harm water quality. That’s because the repeal of the current WOTUS rule will reinstate the old rule that was previously in effect. Although the administration will be proposing a new definition next year, this action was needed because of other pending court cases and some federal agencies implementing the flawed rule’s definition, despite the court’s ruling to stop implementation.

EPA Comment Considerations

In your comments, tell EPA that no group liked the rule, including environmentalists.  The rule was challenged in multiple courts by all sides (31 states and 53 non-state parties, including environmental groups, state and local governments, farmers, landowners, developers, businesses, and recreation groups).

The many court challenges raised numerous substantive and procedural defects in the rule, the EPA should be reminded. The defects include how the rule exceeds EPA’s statutory authority, imposes burdensome regulatory uncertainty, how its promulgation was in violation of mandatory procedural requirements designed to ensure a well-informed result.

It’s important to tell EPA that the previous administration’s rule had more to do with the regulation of land than of water. Regulating up to 98 percent of Iowa, the rule was a land-grab that created confusion and uncertainty for regulators, farmers and others who depend on their ability to work the land. It imposed enormous regulatory road blocks and costs for simply moving soil in low spots on the landscape.

The EPA also needs to understand that the rule’s definition of “tributary” was so broad that it even included landscape features invisible to the human eye.

Learn more about the comment process and concerns with the current EPA WOTUS definition at this American Farm Bureau Federation link.