Nebraska, Iowa governors sign joint letter in opposition to new WOTUS rule

(MGN Online / pxhere)
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 5:08 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds join 23 other governors in signing a letter to Joe Biden condemning a new rule regarding the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the revised definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS).

WOTUS is described by the Environmental Protection Agency as “a threshold term in the Clean Water Act and establishes the geographic scope of federal jurisdiction under the Act.” WOTUS is not defined in the Clean Water Act, but the Act gives the EPA and the U.S. Department of the Army the authority to define what WOTUS refers to in regulations.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced in late December the final rule that established the new definition of “Waters of the United States,” and claimed the change would prevent future uncertainty, protect people’s health, and support economic opportunity.

“The final rule restores essential water protections that were in place prior to 2015 under the Clean Water Act for traditional navigable waters, the territorial seas, interstate waters, as well as upstream water resources that significantly affect those waters,” the EPA said in the December announcement. “As a result, this action will strengthen fundamental protections for waters that are sources of drinking water while supporting agriculture, local economies, and downstream communities.”

According to Pillen, the new WOTUS rule would redefine “navigable waters” to include ponds, certain streams, ditches, and other bodies of water under the Clean Water Act, as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Pillen claims the revised rule is government overreach.

“The revised rule creates greater government overreach, produces additional red tape, and leads to uncertainty for landowners and businesses,” said Pillen. “This will have a negative economic impact at a time when our state is already dealing with increased costs, supply chain issues, and staffing shortages.”

Reynolds claims changing the rule would put a strain on farmers.

“The WOTUS definition has been under scrutiny for nearly twenty years, and your Administration’s rule only further complicates the efforts to create certainty under the CWA for rural communities,” said Reynolds. “The problem is exacerbated by the pending Supreme Court ruling. To change the rule multiple times in six months is an inefficient and wasteful use of State and federal resources and will impose an unnecessary strain on farmers, builders, and every other impacted sector of the American economy.”

The 25 governors which signed the letter in opposition are asking for the Biden administration to wait until after an upcoming Supreme Court Decision, Sackett v. EPA.

Sackett v. EPA asks the Court to clarify the test for determining if wetlands are “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. The ruling is expected this summer.

The new rule takes effect March 20, 2023.

Read the full letter: