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DC News-April 14, 2023

published: April 14th 2023
by: Martha A Hollida
source: Southern Livestock Standard

President Joe Biden on Thursday, April 7th vetoed a congressional resolution that would have overturned protections for the nation’s waterways that Republicans and ag organizations have criticized as overly intrusive.

Republicans — and some Democrats — targeted an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule protecting thousands of small streams, wetlands and other waterways, labeling it an environmental overreach that harms businesses, developers and farmers.

In separate votes, the House and Senate used the Congressional Review Act to enact a measure blocking the clean water rule, which was adopted at the end of last year. 

In his veto message, Biden said the bipartisan measure would leave Americans without a clear definition of “Waters of the United States (WOTUS).” A dispute over the term and the breadth of the landmark Clean Water Act has now been a part of three presidential administrations.

`Rep. Glenn Thompson, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and cosponsor of the resolution, issued this statement following the president’s veto: “Both the House and Senate voted in a bipartisan manner to vacate this Administration’s disastrous WOTUS rule. America’s farmers, ranchers, and landowners have made it clear this WOTUS definition is overly burdensome and unworkable, only exacerbating the regulatory uncertainty rural communities currently face. By vetoing this resolution, President Biden has once again turned his back on rural America.”


Ag organizations and farmers and ranchers are concerned as the new WOTUS rules are so ambiguous that they may require farmers to hire people from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or Army Corps of Engineers to examine waterways on their property. For example, farmers who own thousands of acres of land could spend a whole month tromping through woods helping an Army engineer get to all the possible WOTUS locations on the land.

The new WOTUS rules don’t come without hefty fines for non-compliance. Because of these fines and the ambiguity of how “additional waters” are defined, farmers are going to be facing scrutiny for previously unimportant matters.


American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented on the president’s decision to veto the Congressional Review Act joint resolution, saying, “This veto flies in the face of President Biden’s promise to support farmers and ranchers. This rule is a clear case of government overreach that leaves farmers wondering whether they can farm their own land. It’s a shame the President is standing with bureaucrats instead of with the people who stock America’s pantries.”


What happens with WOTUS likely lies primarily with the Supreme Court who will issue a decision on Sackett v. EPA sometime in late spring or early summer. The decision will outline the proper test for determining whether wetlands are “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. 


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