Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation applauds clean water rule proposal
LARAMIE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation supports clean water and clear rules. WyFB is pleased with the new water rule proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Farmers and ranchers need a common-sense water rule that protects water quality and gives them clear rules they can follow,” said Ken Hamilton, WyFB executive vice president. “The 2015 WOTUS rule was a land grab that put property rights of Wyomingites at risk and would have done nothing to benefit water.”
The 2015 WOTUS rule was blocked by the courts within days of its effective date based on its legal flaws and was never implemented nationwide. According to Hamilton, it is critical that the new water rule be clear and specific. “It is unfair to have unclear rules out there that can lead to penalties, but does nothing to protect water,” he said. “Farmers and ranchers should be able to continue to use their land to raise food and not have to stop and hire legal counsel to determine what the rules mean.”
Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated on a conference call that the rule proposal will provide a more precise definition of waters of the United States. “Our new more precise-definition means that hard-working Americans will spend more time upgrading aging infrastructure and growing crops to feed our families rather than working on permits that are a costly process that runs counter to our form of government,” Wheeler stated.
Wheeler explained the new rule will help landowners to understand whether they need a permit or not to use their own land. “The new rule will assure America’s water protections remain strong while giving states and tribes certainty to manage their waters in ways that best protect the water,” Wheeler said.
“It is essential that farmers and ranchers be able to look at their land and know what is and is not a Water of the U.S. under the Clean Water Act,” Hamilton continued. “This new water rule proposal defines specifically what is and what isn’t a water of the U.S.”
WyFB President Todd Fornstrom joined state farm bureau presidents from across the nation at an event at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington to witness the signing of the proposed Clean Water Rule.
Farmers and ranchers have every incentive to leave their land and natural resources in better shape for the next generation. “Many farms, including my family’s farm, have been in the family for several generations,” said Fornstrom, who is a Laramie County farmer. “We understand what is necessary to both care for the land and water as well as improve the environmental resources we are entrusted with on our farms.”
“We want clean water and clear rules just like anyone else,” Fornstrom explained. “We have children that live and work on our farms and we hope to pass our farms down to the next generation.”
“In order to do that, we must be able to use our land so that we can constantly improve the environmental resources in our care,” he concluded. “Farmers and ranchers need this new water rule that protects water quality and provides clear rules we can follow.” ❖