SALEM, OR -- Oregon joined six other states this month, in filing a legal motion in support of controversial new water regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, called the Waters of the United States rule. Kayli Hanley with the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association tells KBND, "The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association is disappointed to see the state of Oregon supporting a ruling that’s vagueness leaves doors open for ranchers, farmers and private landowners water access to be unjustly regulated. We currently have a lawsuit filed with the Pacific Legal Foundation against the WOTUS ruling; and we don’t believe Oregon’s stance will have any impact on that lawsuit."
Hanley explains why the OCA is concerned about the new regulations: "It’s broadness, and it’s potential for the EPA to overextend water management on private property. Due to the rule’s lack of clarity, a broad range of water sources could be considered to need federal management, and it could even include something as small as a rain puddle." She adds, "There’s potential to take away locally driven initiatives that are successful; and we believe WOTUS is an expansion of federal jurisdiction that threatens the rights of private property owners. We’re asking that the EPA listen to effected stakeholders, such as the ranching industry, and take into account with the effected people have to say about it."
Many ranchers are asking whether officials in Salem truly have the best interest of the state's number-one agricultural commodity at heart. Rancher and Former OCA president Sharon Livingston is frustrated with the state's continued support of increased water rules. she says the nearly 40 management areas statewide already ensure water quality and quantity for both agricultural and non-ag needs.
The EPA claims the rule clarifies which waterways fall under federal jurisdiction for the purposes of enforcing the Clean Water Act.