North Dakota Stockmen’s Association disappointed in Waters of the United States rule

Farm Forum

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized on May 27 its controversial “Waters of the United States (WOTUS)” proposed rule. EPA officials champion the rule as an effort to clarify the agency’s jurisdiction over U.S. waters, but North Dakota beef producers believe it inappropriately expands that jurisdiction and could strip landowners’ private property rights.

North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) President Steve Brooks, a Bowman, N.D., cow-calf and seedstock producer, said, “The ‘Waters of the U.S.’ rule undoubtedly expands the jurisdiction of the EPA with its ambiguous language. The rule is sure to create unnecessary, expensive, regulatory battles between federal officials and private landowners seeking to carry out everyday tasks on their farms and ranches.”

Brooks said the rule is the result of a flawed rule-making process, which began without the agencies consulting with agricultural producers and other stakeholders who will be impacted by the regulations.

“EPA officials failed to fully examine their proposal’s effect on farmers and ranchers from the beginning of the rule-making process,” Brooks said. “EPA says the rule aims to clarify current Clean Water Act jurisdiction, but that assurance is little comfort to those who will be required to get permits or face fines for regular activities on their operations. The rule must not move forward.”

The NDSA shared its concerns with EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last year through face-to-face meetings and formal comments submitted to the agencies.