EXCLUSIVE – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt in a letter to the Biden administration on Tuesday condemned the “federal government land grab” by the Environmental Protection Agency for its decision to revise the Obama-era definition of “United States waters” (WOTUS).
The letter comes after President Biden’s EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers last week announced plans to redefine former President Obama’s WOTUS rule, which Conservatives have criticized for its confusing definition of subject navigable waters. to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act of 1972, leaving room for government excess.
“Missouri farmers and ranchers have looked after their land for generations. They do not need another federal government land grab threatening their livelihoods and their ability to earn a living,” said Schmitt in a statement released Tuesday. âPresident Obama’s rule over United States waters has been a disaster for the farmers, ranchers and small businesses of Missouri. “
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Schmitt added that the state “cannot return to this level of unprecedented federal reach and intrusion.”
The latest EPA ruling would repeal and replace the Trump-era Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which sought to clarify the definition of “navigable waters” and bring less land to federal regulation, after the old President Trump repealed and replaced WOTUS in 2020.
A Analysis 2015 of the Iowa Farm Bureau, for example, found that 97% of Iowa’s land could be subject to federal regulations under WOTUS.
Schmitt, in his letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan and Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army of Civil Work, Jamie Pinkham of the Army Corps of Engineers, writes that the EPA and the Army Corps have “no jurisdiction to impose conditions of land use and permits on Americans – that authority is vested in the states, not the federal government.”
The Missouri Attorney General also cites the opinion of the late Judge Antonin Scalia in 2006 in Rapanos v. United States claiming that the Clean Water Act has led to a “huge expansion of federal regulation and land use” and that “the” statutory waters of the United States “are swallowing up entire cities and vast barren wasteland.”
Schmitt added in his letter that the EPA and the Army Corps should follow the Trump administration in abandoning “this lawless course of continuing to expand federal jurisdiction beyond any mandate in the clear text of the law.” .
“The Navigable Waters Protection Rule protects water quality, provides certainty and clarity, and keeps the federal government on track. We commend Attorney General Schmitt for warning the Biden administration that any rewrite pushes the boundaries of the Clean Water Act will not go unchallenged, âMissouri Farm Bureau president Garrett Hawkins said Tuesday.
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Missouri Cattlemen’s Association president Patty Wood said in a statement she compared “the return to WOTUS rule” to “a slap in the face of farm and ranch families.”
âThe rule was a widespread invasion of private property rights where the EPA literally had total control of every drop of water in the country, from a mud puddle to a farm pond,â Wood said. “We fully support Attorney General Schmitt’s efforts to delay the review of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.”
Supporters of Biden’s decision to redefine WOTUS and repeal Trump’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule say the move will help protect the environment.
Regan said in a June 9 statement that the rule to protect navigable waters “is leading to significant environmental degradation.”
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âWe are committed to establishing a sustainable definition of ‘United States waters’ based on Supreme Court case law and learning from current and previous regulations, as well as contributions from a wide range of stakeholders, to that we can protect our country’s waters, foster economic growth and support thriving communities, âhe said.
Pinkham said the Trump-era rule “resulted in a 25 percentage point reduction in determinations of waters that would otherwise be protected.”
“Together, the Ministry of the Army and the EPA will develop a rule based on our technical expertise, simple to implement by our agencies and state and tribal co-regulators, and shaped by the lived experience of local communities,” he said.