The latest in a long line of rules addressing the meaning of “waters of the U.S.” should help producers understand which areas of their land may be subject to federal regulation, EPA's top water official said on Agri-Pulse Newsmakers.

“By implementing this rule … we provide even more clarity because we now have a regulatory regime that is, in fact, consistent with the Sackett decision,” said Radhika Fox, EPA's assistant administrator for water.

EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers released revisions to their previous WOTUS rule — issued in March — itoconform with the Supreme Court's Sackett opinion issued two months later. 

The court scrapped the “significant nexus” test that had been used by the agencies to determine federal jurisdiction. In its place is a standard requiring that waters be “relatively permanent” to fall under federal authority.

But the ag community said the revisions are too narrow and not detailed enough. 

Courtney Briggs, an American Farm Bureau Federation senior government affairs director, said the group was disappointed in the new language. 

“It was less about what it did say and more about what it didn’t say,” she said.

Briggs said Farm Bureau's main problem with the rule is that it “fails to provide more context as to what 'relatively permanent' means,” which could confuse many producers.

Tom Hebert with the Bayard Ridge Group, also appearing on the show, said there are “enormous problems” with a lack of definition of the term. 

Hebert said, however, that pending court challenges may provide some clarity on “relatively permanent.”

“I know folks from agriculture and other affected communities will lay out the best arguments they can in these cases,” Hebert said.

The full conversations with Fox, Briggs and Hebert can be viewed on

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