WOTUS Rule survives veto override attempt

Legislative Watch: Farmers await SCOTUS decision; EPA discusses E-15 waiver; ag opposes Scope 3 emissions rule; SNAP, green energy targeted for cuts.

Eric Bohl

April 21, 2023

3 Min Read
The regulation would replace the WOTUS rule issued in August 2015 by the Obama administration’s U.S. Environmental Protecti
National Pork Board

House Republicans failed to gain the necessary two-thirds majority to override President Biden's veto of a resolution that would have nullified his latest Waters of the U.S. Rule, widely known as WOTUS. On Tuesday, the attempt to override the veto garnered 227 votes, compared to 196 opposed, falling 55 votes short of the needed supermajority. Ten Democrats joined all but one Republican in voting to override the veto. This leaves the Biden WOTUS Rule in place in the 24 states in which it has not been blocked by court-issued injunctions.

Farmers and landowners are still awaiting a Supreme Court ruling in the Sackett v. EPA case, which is challenging the authority of a previous version of the rule. A decision should be handed down by June.

EPA administrator discusses E-15 waiver, defends new WOTUS Rule
EPA Administrator Michael Regan appeared before the House Agriculture Committee this week, marking the first time in seven years an EPA administrator had spoken before the panel. Regan would not commit to a timeline for deciding on an E15 waiver that would allow the higher-blend biofuel to be sold this summer. In response to intense questioning by both parties, Regan said conditions are not identical to prior years and he has not yet received enough evidence to make a decision on the waiver.

Regan also said it was not improper for the EPA to move forward with a new WOTUS rule while the Sackett case is still pending before the Supreme Court. He defended his agency's actions, stating, "We will respect the ruling of the Supreme Court, but we won't be starting from scratch."

Ag groups send letter to SEC opposing Scope 3 emissions rule
Seven leading agriculture groups sent a letter this week to the Securities and Exchange Commission pushing back on its "Climate Rule" that would require reporting of carbon emissions up and down a company's supply chain. The groups said:

"In short, public companies that are required to report emissions from agricultural production will inevitably require farmers and ranchers to track and report their emissions information to those companies. This tracking will be extremely expensive, invasive, and burdensome for farmers and ranchers, at the cost of improved production practices that generate actual environmental gains. Family farms, particularly smaller ones, will be hardest hit, with the rule driving greater consolidation and fewer family farms. … To address these concerns, we urge the Commission to either a) remove the Scope 3 emissions disclosure requirement, or b) substantially revise the Scope 3 requirement to include an explicit exemption for agricultural production."

The letter was signed by the Agricultural Retailers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Pork Producers Council and the North American Meat Institute.

SNAP, green energy tax credits targeted for cuts in House Republican debt limit proposal
On Wednesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) released his initial proposal to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for significant spending cuts. Dubbed the "Limit, Save, Grow Act," McCarthy claims the bill would lead to more than $4.5 trillion in savings to taxpayers.

Over $3.6 trillion of this would come from capping annual discretionary spending growth at 1% for the next 10 years. Other savings would come from changes to several programs, including increasing work requirements for able-bodied adults to qualify for SNAP benefits and reducing or eliminating 25 programs McCarthy referred to as "Green New Deal" tax credits. Several biofuel credits would be reduced and the sustainable aviation fuel tax credit would be eliminated.

Many Democrats, including President Biden, pronounced the bill "dead on arrival," with the SNAP changes drawing a large part of the political fire. However, other Democrats called on Biden to come to the table and negotiate now that McCarthy has laid down a marker. The issue received new urgency this week with the release of a Goldman Sachs report projecting the government could run out of borrowing room in early June.

About the Author(s)

Eric Bohl

Eric Bohl is an agricultural policy leader with extensive experience on Capitol Hill. He served six years as Chief of Staff to Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO) and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), and previously served as Legislative Director to Rep. Hartzler. During that time, he led her work on the House Agriculture Committee and was influential in efforts to craft the 2014 Farm Bill, as well as handling environmental, energy, transportation and infrastructure, and agricultural trade issues.

Eric’s experience starts at the ground level. His family has deep roots in both animal and row-crop farming going back several generations. This understanding of the unique challenges real farmers face brings valuable perspective to help solve clients’ needs. His midwestern values also allow him to build meaningful relationships with people on both sides of the political aisle and find common-sense solutions that transcend partisan lines.

This approach has continued to be the cornerstone of Eric’s career in grassroots advocacy. He served more than five years as Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy for Missouri Farm Bureau. He was a senior member of the organization’s legislative team and led communications and coalition advocacy efforts, including on the 2018 Farm Bill. His writings on agriculture and rural policy have been published in newspapers across the nation. He serves as First Vice President of the St. Louis Agribusiness Club and is a board member of the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City, two of the nation’s largest and strongest organizations supporting agribusinesses.

Before his career in public policy, Eric was a practicing attorney for nearly five years, focusing on real estate and agricultural law, commercial transactions, and commercial litigation. Eric earned undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri, graduating from both programs with honors, and served as the Managing Editor of the Missouri Law Review.

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