FORT WORTH, Texas — Robert McKnight, Jr., president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) issued the following statement in response to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) release of a new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule:
“We thank the EPA and Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler for fulfilling the administration’s pledge to rewrite the onerous Obama-era WOTUS law. Their commitment to creating a new rule that is easily interpreted by property owners and that limits federal intrusion on private property rights signals that the new proposal is moving in the right direction. However, as with any rule of this scope and magnitude, it will take some time to thoroughly review the plan and ensure cattle producers are not needlessly burdened as they would have been under the previous version.
“We look forward to reviewing the rule and providing comments to the EPA on its impact to cattle producers and property owners.”
In 2015, the Obama administration issued a revised WOTUS rule that drastically increased the scope of federal regulation of private lands by regulating “waters” that included ditches, streams that only flowed when it rained, and floodplains. Those changes posed a significant burden to cattle raisers who would have been required to obtain federal permits for a wide array of common land and water management practices. The 2015 rule has been mired in legal challenges since its adoption but is current law in 22 states, including Oklahoma. Texas and 28 other states are still able to operate based on the 1980s rule due to various court injunctions.