A broad ranging Nebraska-based coalition representing interests from agriculture, business, and rural power, to homebuilders, golf course managers, and local government entities have registered support for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) proposed Clean Water Rule. Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson offered supportive testimony on behalf of the “Common Sense Nebraska” coalition during the agencies’ field hearing on the proposal, February 28 in Kansas City, Kansas.

“Our coalition partners want a rule that provides a framework for clean water protection, but also clearly identifies waters subject to federal jurisdiction. We believe the EPA and Corps have moved in the right direction with this new proposal on those fronts,” Nelson said.

The proposal would replace the agencies’ Obama era, 2015 “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule that drew fierce opposition from the Nebraska coalition.

“Our coalition partners are committed to protecting the land and water resources under our stewardship, however, the 2015 WOTUS rule was not about clean water, but instead about a massive expansion of federal authority over private lands and infringement upon individual property rights,” said Nelson.

In his testimony, Nelson highlighted several key points demonstrating the improvement the new rule makes over the previously proposed rule. Some of those points were:

  • The proposal respects the historical limits of the federal Clean Water Act by regulating the ‘navigable waters’ that have long been recognized as falling under federal authority.
  • It provides a clear list of waters and land features which are exempt from federal regulation, including, ground water, ditches, and ephemeral drainage areas where water only runs during rainfall events. The WOTUS rule opened the door for federal regulation of all these features.
  • The proposal respects the state of Nebraska’s rights to regulate state waters as originally intended by Congress.

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