WOTUS rule troubles Texas farmers and ranchers
A final rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would expand its authority under the Clean Water Act and could leave Texas agriculture mired in regulation.
Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) President Russell Boening said the state’s largest farm organization is still analyzing the 88-page rule, released today.
“Texas farmers and ranchers are clearly troubled,” Boening said. “An initial examination of the rule shows that under broad interpretations, EPA can still subject most anything—including farm ponds, ditches and fields—as Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS). This could allow EPA to virtually dictate land-use decisions and farming practices.”
Farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to remain in production often depends on being able to use farming practices that would be prohibited if EPA denies a permit for them. Activities such as fertilizer and pesticide applications could be affected.
Those concerns were expressed by thousands of farmers and ranchers across the nation during the comment period on the proposed rule. More than 1,200 comments were sent to the EPA from TFB members alone.
“It looks as if our concerns may have fallen on deaf ears. It seems that agriculture is back to square one when you consider the potential impact for farmers and ranchers,” Boening said. “We already have safeguards to protect our water resources. We don’t need EPA to pile on more.”
He said agriculture is still supporting legislation in the Senate that would stop EPA from implementing the rule.
“The House has passed similar legislation. The Supreme Court has ruled twice against EPA’s expansion of the Clean Water Act,” Boening said. “Yet, in a classic example of regulatory overreach, EPA continues to muddy the water on this very important issue.”