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Uncertainty for farmers after water pollution rule scrapped

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Jeff Tyson

A federal judge on Monday scrapped a Trump administration rule that limited federal protections for streams, marshes and wetlands across the United States. The Biden administration had already sought to undo the policy and this ruling will allow for new waterway protections that could impact the work of farmers. But just how the Environmental Protection Agency will act going forward and the kinds of protections that may be introduced remains unclear.

Brian Rahm

Director of the New York State Water Resources Institute

Brian Rahm, director of the New York State Water Resources Institute and senior research associate with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, says the EPA will have to provide clarity for farmers seeking to adhere to regulations and that a science-based approach will benefit everyone.

Rahm says:

"For New York farmers, there is still uncertainty over what the current administration will ultimately do here. Ideally, I hope the EPA will develop something based in science, which reflects the reality of the connectedness of our hydrological systems, and which is articulate enough to provide clarity over how and when the rule may come into play with respect to the regulation of certain land use activities. 

"As with other issues, such as climate change, I fail to see how ignoring science helps us. We should face difficult discussions about land use and resource management equipped with facts. At the same time, any rule created without an understanding of the current state of the art of agriculture – and the resources available to advance natural resource stewardship – will not be effective or welcomed.

"Overall, while I don't know exactly which definition of ‘waters of the U.S.’ will be reverted to, I welcome the scrapping of the Trump era rule, which I think showed an irresponsible disregard for well-established science."

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