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Missouri Attorney General Opposes New Waters of the U.S. Rule

Missouri Attorney General Opposes New Waters of the U.S. Rule

Feb 8, 2022, 09:15 AM by AG Schmitt

Today, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, along with 23 other states, submitted a comment to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and the Army Corps of Engineers opposing the Biden Administration’s proposed rule that would revise the Waters of the United States rule and subject Missouri’s farmers and ranchers to strict government regulation.

“Missouri’s farmers and ranchers have been tending to their land for generations – they don’t need yet another federal government land grab that threatens their ability to make a living and provide for their families,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “The Obama-era Waters of the U.S. Rule was a disaster for Missouri’s farmers and ranchers, and my Office will stand firm against any attempt by the Biden Administration to return to that level of government intrusion and overreach.”   In 2015, under the Obama Administration, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers issued a sweeping Waters of the U.S. rule that over-interpreted the agencies’ authority and vested regulatory power to the agencies to oversee and regulate a massive amount of the country’s “navigable waters,” which could’ve been interpreted to mean dry creek beds or trickling streams. That rule would’ve granted the federal government authority to regulate massive swaths of Missouri land.   In 2019, under President Trump, the agencies issued a proposed rule with a revised definition and restrained powers, which was turned into the Navigable Waters Protection Rule in 2020 – that rule was praised by the American Farm Bureau. Now, the Biden Administration is attempting to replace the NWPR to increase the federal government’s authority to regulate waterways in states across the country, including Missouri. Previous rules have been rightly decried by farmers and ranchers in Missouri as nothing more than a federal land grab.   The comment states, “State and local officials understand their local environments’ unique hydrological challenges better than federal regulators.  They can respond faster to changing conditions, too.  And they are more closely accountable to constituents and stakeholders who have the sense of local needs.”   Further, the comment takes issue with the vague definition of “waters of the U.S.,” stating, “In the Proposed Rule, the Agencies purport to define ‘the waters of the United States’ to include certain categories of waters and wetlands—plus a cryptic category of ‘other waters’—that meet ‘either the relatively permanent standard or the significant nexus standard.’”   Read the full letter here:'-comments-on-proposed-wotus-rule-c1.pdf?sfvrsn=aa4df12b_2   The Missouri Attorney General’s Office in June, 2021, sent a similar letter to the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers opposing a replacement to the NWPR.