EPA administrator visits Indiana Farm to talk WOTUS

The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, visited Indiana on Aug. 2. Pruitt met with Gov. Eric Holcomb, Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, INFB President Randy Kron and other INFB members to discuss the Waters of the U.S. rule and conservation.

The meeting with Pruitt was held at INFB member Mike Starkey’s farm in Brownsburg. Kron and members were able to voice their opinions regarding the WOTUS issue directly with the administrator. Kron said the talk with Pruitt was promising and he looks forward to continued discussion on the topic in the future.

“Administrator Pruitt’s visits to the countryside to talk directly to farmers shows his commitment to restoring integrity to the regulatory process at EPA,” Kron said. “Understanding the issues and those impacted by regulatory decisions is critical for EPA to do its job well and implement the authority given to it by Congress.”

In June, EPA announced a proposal to rescind the Clean Water Rule and re-codify the regulatory text that defined WOTUS back to the language that existed prior to 2015. The language introduced in 2015 grants regulatory control over virtually all waters, not just navigable waters as authorized by Congress. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals issued a nationwide stay on the rule shortly after it took effect.

While a long-term fix has not yet been determined, the move to return back to the previous language is a step in the right direction. Pruitt’s visit to Indiana was one stop of many in his State Action Tour. He has been meeting with state officials and interested parties across the United States to gather feedback. Then, EPA will begin the process of redefining WOTUS.

INFB state government relations director Justin Schneider said this meeting was a great opportunity for INFB to voice concerns and give suggestions regarding that redefinition process. He noted that the meeting was a good opportunity to highlight the necessities in a future rule: to clearly define what is and what is not a jurisdictional water and to ensure that the ag exemptions provided by Congress are maintained. Schneider added that now is also the time for members to share their views on the issue with EPA.

“Next steps include continued comments from INFB and its members,” Schneider said. “Then, we need to continue to provide input for the new rule going forward.”

Members are able to submit written comments to EPA on the definition of WOTUS until Aug. 28. To share your views on the issue, visit INFB’s website.