NPC Applauds EPA Decision to Roll Back Onerous WOTUS Rule

The National Potato Council welcomed last week’s announcement that EPA finalized its proposed rule defining the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. EPA’s action also defines what waters are not subject to federal control, including most farm and roadside ditches, prior converted cropland, and farm and stock watering ponds.

“Potato farmers are committed to protecting the nation’s waters,” said Britt Raybould, President of the National Potato Council. “However, the imposition of unnecessary federal burdens, such as regulating ditches on private farms that are generally dry throughout the year, undermines that overall mission by creating uncertainty and increasing costs. EPA’s newly issued rule avoids those negative outcomes and provides increased clarity regarding the responsibilities of farmers under the Clean Water Act in protecting our nation’s surface water resources.”

NPC Vice President of Environmental Affairs Dominic LaJoie also welcomed the news. “NPC appreciates EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers for issuing a final rule defining what waters are subject to the permitting authority under the Clean Water Act. While we are still reviewing the rule, it appears that the federal agencies have adopted a common-sense approach in determining the act’s scope. It recognizes the authority of the states to continue to manage their waters while providing the federal government appropriate authority to protect navigable waters,” said LaJoie.

NPC Vice President of Legislative Affairs RJ Andrus and NPC Chief Operating Officer Mike
Wenkel joined state and local partners at an event yesterday with Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) at the Idaho Potato Conference & AG Expo announcing the new rule. The event was one of many that occurred throughout the country held by members of Congress and federal officials welcoming the rule.

The revised WOTUS definition identifies four clear categories of waters that are federally
regulated under the Clean Water Act: the territorial seas and traditional navigable waters; perennial and intermittent tributaries; certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments; and wetlands that are adjacent to jurisdictional waters. Importantly, the final action also details what waters are not subject to federal control, including features that only contain water in direct response to rainfall; groundwater; many ditches, including most farm and roadside ditches; prior converted cropland; farm and stock watering ponds; and waste treatment systems.

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