(Washington, D.C.) -- Northern Missouri Congressman Sam Graves is weighing in on the ongoing battle over how the EPA defines waters of the United States when it comes to regulation.
Last month, Graves joined several Republicans in sending a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, expressing concerns over an effort redefine what is considered a federally protected waterway. Under the Trump Administration, the EPA's WOTUS rule was changed under the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which narrowed the definition of which waterways the federal government could regulate. Graves says the NWPR has worked for the nation's farmers.
"I can't believe we're actually debating this again after we had fixed it and came up with a reasonable compromise that protected landowners' rights and at the same time protected our water," said Graves. "But, here we go. We're being pushed back to this situation where -- if you take just the state of Missouri -- under the old WOTUS rule that we got rid of, it would have allowed EPA to regulate 99% of the farmland out there. That's bad news for farmers all across the country."
In early June, the EPA and Department of the Army announced their intention to revise the definition of waters of the U.S. in an effort to better protect the country's water resources, support public health, environmental protection, agricultural activity and economic growth. Graves says if the agencies listen to farmers in the Midwest, they will realize a broad definition harms agriculture.
"We need to leave it in place and not try to destroy the livelihoods of so many farmers out there and let some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. dictate how they are going to farm and what they can do with their land," said Graves. "This is regulating dry washbeds in many cases. If it runs water once a year, then they are considering it a Waters of U.S. -- a significant nexus. That's some of the wording that's being brought back out. It's a real problem. We have to stop this."
Graves says he would prefer to see more policies like this decided by Congress, rather than agencies like the EPA to avoid drastic shifts in policy with each change in administration.
"We have statutory law, which are those laws passed by Congress, voted on by both houses and signed by president," said Graves. "And then we have regulatory. That's done by the agencies through regulation. We're getting into a situation where the majority of laws are now done through regulatory, through the regulation side in these agencies. Ultimately, what needs to happen is that needs to stripped back, peeled back. I don't care what administration it is. We need to see less regulatory law and more laws that are done through voting on by those people that are elected from their home states."
The original WOTUS rule was enacted under the Obama Administration in 2015. After suspending the rule, the Trump Administration formally rescinded WOTUS in September 2019 before enacting the current policy.