Congress looks to clarify clean water regulations
By Alex Paton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a revised definition of the “Waters of the United States” that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act, specifically what waters the federal government can and cannot regulate.
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, is encouraging Mississippians to review the proposal unveiled by the EPA this week and participate in the public comment period on the plan.
“President Trump and his administration have made an intensive effort to roll back President Obama’s big-government regulations, the worst of which was the Waters of the United States rule,” said Hyde-Smith. “That rule was the poster child for overreaching bureaucrats giving the federal government far-reaching powers over individual landowners.”
With the Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA proposal would clarify where the Clean Water Act is applicable, including traditional navigable waters, tributaries, certain lakes, and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters. Groundwater, agricultural and roadside ditches, prior converted cropland, stormwater control projects, and waste treatment plants would not fall under federal WOTUS jurisdiction.
“I think the EPA has proposed a responsible plan to carry out the Clean Water Act in a manner that respects states’ rights and isn’t a terrible burden to farmers, ranchers, and rural communities,” Hyde-Smith said. “As this proposal undergoes review, I hope the people of Mississippi will study it to see how it could affect them.”
The new proposal is consistent with President Trump’s February 2017 Executive Order, “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule.”
Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson commended the Trump Administration and Congress for their work on the WOTUS issue, as well as, the passage of the Farm Bill.
“I am encouraged this week by the progress made on key issues that significantly impact our farmers, ranchers, and landowners across the state. The proposed redefining of the “waters of the U.S.” and the passage of a new farm bill are much-needed good news for our farmers giving them a level of certainty that they need to maintain their operations and remain competitive,” said Gipson. “I commend the Trump Administration and the EPA for issuing a less burdensome Clean Water Act rule, and I commend Congress for working diligently to pass a farm bill before the end of the year as farmers are making plans for next year’s crop.”
Following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in the Senate on Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the $867 billion farm bill today sending the legislation to President Trump for a signature. It is expected that the President will sign the Farm Bill later this week.