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Wisconsin Farmers Celebrate Move Toward Ending WOTUS Rule

Some Worry Removing Controversial Rule Will Lead To Cutback On Water Conservation

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President Donald Trump shaking hands with Scott Pruitt
Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

Several Wisconsin agriculture organizations say they’re relieved the United States Environmental Protection Agency has moved one step closer to removing the controversial Waters of the United States rule.

The 2015 rule, commonly known as WOTUS, defined and expanded which waterways are covered by the 1972 Clean Water Act and it’s water pollution standards.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in February directing the EPA to begin the process of withdrawing the WOTUS rule. On Tuesday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt put forth a proposal to take back the Obama-era rule. This is the first step of many to repeal and replace the regulation, according to the The New York Times.

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Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President Jim Holte said WOTUS regulations would have been a burden on producers in the state.

“The federal government would be able to require I and all of my neighbors who farm to get permits for almost all of our activities on the land and that would include planting seed that’s got any kind of protectant on it, applying any kind of fertilizer,” Holte said.

Holte said there are more logical ways to protect water resources that are not as “invasive” for farmers.

The Wisconsin Farmers Union also supports removing the rule. But government relations associate Nick Levendofsky said the organization feels better regulations are needed to protect water resources.

“Our members are clear in the fact that we want to remain stewards of the land and the water, and ensure that clean water is available today and for future generations. So that is at the utmost importance to us,” Levendofsky said.

Levendofsky said some WFU members are concerned removing WOTUS will lead to further cuts to water protections in the EPA.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel also praised the EPA’s decision. He was one of more than 20 state attorneys general who called on the EPA to remove the WOTUS rule earlier this month.

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