NEWS
Obama Vetoes WOTUS Bill
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor
Mon Jan 25, 2016 08:02 AM CST

OMAHA (DTN) -- President Barack Obama kept true to his word and disappointed most people in agriculture late Tuesday by vetoing legislation meant to block the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' rule broadening the definition for waters of the U.S.

Farm groups argue the waters of the U.S. rule will allow EPA and the Corps to demand farmers apply for permits to conduct basic farming practices because the land could have vernal pools or ditches that fill during heavy rains. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer file photo)

The presidential veto leaves the fate of the rule to federal courts. The rule is already under a federal court injunction blocking it from being implemented until the federal courts determine whether it is legal. More than half the states in the country have filed suits to block the rule from going into effect.

Agricultural groups have been at the forefront of efforts to block EPA and the Corps from implementing the waters of the U.S. rule, commonly called WOTUS. Critics of the rule call it a regulatory "land grab" that will give regulatory agencies broad control over land use nationally. Farm groups argue the rule will allow EPA and the Corps to demand farmers apply for permits to conduct basic farming practices because the land could have vernal pools or ditches that fill during heavy rains.

EPA argues the rule only clarifies the Clean Water Act following two divergent Supreme Court rulings a decade ago.

The Senate voted 53-44 to block the WOTUS rule under language in the Congressional Review Act. The House of Representatives voted multiple times last year to block WOTUS, but voted last week 253-166 to adopt the Senate resolution. Neither vote in the House or Senate was large enough to overcome a presidential veto.

In his veto, the president stated the waters of the U.S. rule was a product of extensive public involvement and years of work. The president called the rule "critical to our efforts to protect the Nation's waters and keep them clean."

The president added, "We must protect the waters that are vital for the health of our communities and the success of our businesses, agriculture, and energy development. As I have noted before, too many of our waters have been left vulnerable. Pollution from upstream sources ends up in the rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and coastal waters near which most Americans live and on which they depend for their drinking water, recreation, and economic development. Clarifying the scope of the Clean Water Act helps to protect these resources and safeguard public health."

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

(AG)

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