The Harmful Impact of an
Overly Burdensome Federal Water Rule
By Rep. David Rouzer
As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Agriculture Committee, I have a keen interest in the federal government’s regulation of our nation’s waters; especially when these regulations have the potential to very negatively impact landowners, farm families, municipalities and small businesses all across our great country.
The 1972 amendments to the Clean Water Act established federal jurisdiction over “navigable waters,” defined in the act as the “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS). Complicating the picture significantly, no clear definition of WOTUS was included in the law, which gave wide latitude to creative interpretations leading to much uncertainty and legal wrangling over these many years.
The Obama administration put in place a rule defining WOTUS in such a way which would have resulted in an unprecedented expansion and scope of the federal bureaucracy onto private property. Their rule’s absurd definition, which could have easily been interpreted to include temporary water accumulation, such as a mud puddle and even water running across dry land after a rainstorm, drew substantial opposition from farmers, local governments, small businesses and many citizens.
When President Trump repealed the 2015 Obama-Biden rule, there was no longer any worry about an unelected bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., dictating what could or could not be done on private property. The Trump administration’s WOTUS rule provided much needed clarity and predictability to regulated parties across the U.S. And despite what some claim, the Trump-era rule did not give polluters free rein to disregard the health of our nation’s waterways.
Now, the Biden administration is working to issue a new rule in a move which has many concerned about government overreach with the potential to limit food production, American energy production, home building and critical infrastructure projects.
Our farm families are the original stewards of our land. They have a vested interest in maintaining and protecting our natural resources. Their livelihoods depend upon clean water and a clean environment.
In most cases, those involved in agriculture are multi-generation family farmers. Each intends to leave their land to their children better than they found it.
Let us not get in their way with a federal government power grab adding more red tape and headache. Adding more cost to food production in the form of unnecessary regulation is always a dumb idea, but it is especially so during a time of rising inflation, rising input costs and rising food prices.
U.S. Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.) is chairman of the Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee on the Agriculture Committee. To contact Rouzer, visit rouzerforms.house.gov/contact/.