President Biden kicked off April by dealing America’s farmers and small businesses yet another blow in the name of his radical climate agenda. With the stroke of his pen, Biden rejected the will of a bipartisan majority in Congress and pushed forward his Administration’s hallmark water rule that significantly expands federal regulatory control over our land and waterways.
Washington Democrats’ latest effort to force its liberal agenda on the American public is anything but commonsense conservation, and further threatens the livelihood of farmers and small business owners across Kentucky.
Waters of the United States (WOTUS) defines which waterways are subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act. During his final months in office, President Obama rewrote this rule, expanding federal jurisdiction far beyond the original scope of this legislation. This much-maligned move kicked off all kinds of court battles and, to the delight of farmers across the country, was reversed under the Trump Administration. Unfortunately, President Biden’s latest version of WOTUS takes us right back to the Obama Administration’s era of overreach.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) expanded definition would classify nearly all wetlands as “navigable” waters and thus subject to federal government interference. This would give federal bureaucrats in Washington sweeping control over just about every piece of land that touches a pothole, ditch, or puddle in Kentucky.
President Biden’s radical rewrite should deeply concern every landowner and business in this country. It grossly infringes on private property rights, creates uncertainty for businesses, and drastically complicates life for countless family farms and landowning Kentuckians across the Commonwealth.
Farmers will be forced to navigate a costly and time-consuming permitting process or risk significant government penalties. Everyday activities to simply work or improve Kentuckians’ private land will need explicit approval from Washington bureaucrats.
Kentucky’s farmers are understandably outraged over this. As President of the Kentucky Corn Growers Association John Lancaster lamented: “This rule gives the federal government sweeping authority over private lands while creating uncertainty for America’s farmers.”
President of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Mark Haney put it this way: Biden’s new regulation “takes us right back to a place of ambiguity and is simply unworkable for farm families.”
Farmers sounded the alarm on this disastrous rule, but the Administration pushed forward with this unpopular and likely illegal overreach.
Senate Republicans have taken action. My colleague from West Virginia, Senator Capito, spearheaded a resolution of disapproval to overturn Biden’s rule. This commonsense measure drew bipartisan support with Democratic lawmakers crossing party lines in both chambers. Unfortunately, President Biden chose to ignore the will of Congress, and the American people, and vetoed Republicans’ legislation.
The fate of this rule now rests in our legal system where the Supreme Court in Sackett v. EPA is expected to hand down a ruling this session. Kentuckians, and concerned producers across this country, can only hope that the Supreme Court makes it clear that these EPA bureaucrats are way outside the authority that Congress actually provided in the Clean Water Act.
Kentucky’s farmers deserve clarity and certainty from their leaders so they can operate their businesses without fear of arbitrary regulatory overreach. We must put a stop to this Administration’s assault on rural America and empower Kentucky’s farmers to do what they do best – feed our nation.