The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers conclude a series of roundtables this week gathering stakeholder thoughts on changing the Waters of the U.S. Rule. Courtney Briggs, American Farm Bureau Federation Senior Director of Government Affairs, says the goal of these events was to find regional differences.
“The roundtables are wrapping up this week and there are ten in total. The point of these roundtables is to talk about the regional differences as it pertains to WOTUS because WOTUS plays out very differently based on what region of the country are in.”
Briggs says, however, the discussions won’t be considered in the rulemaking process.
“There’s been some roundtables that have been very well balanced and have brought different perspectives to the table to talk about regional differences, but there certainly have been some that have been very one-sided. And those have been concerning because they have failed to bring to the table a mainstream agricultural representative. But one of the biggest concerns is the agencies have stated that they are not going to use these roundtables as part of the regulatory process, and it really begs the question, what is the point of these roundtables?”
Briggs says the rulemaking process continues, but the Supreme Court will weigh in soon.
“We expect that the agencies will release a finalized rule at some point this calendar year, but all attention is now turning to the Supreme Court, and they have announced that they will hear oral arguments in Sackett vs. EPA on October 3, so that will be the first case that they will hear next session, and that case has the potential to provide a lot of clarity and certainty for the regulated community.”