On July 27, in Guymon, Oklahoma, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with farmers from Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas to discuss the repeal and clarification of the 2015 Waters of the United States rule.

On July 27, in Guymon, Oklahoma, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with farmers from Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas to discuss the repeal and clarification of the 2015 Waters of the United States rule.

With the February executive order to revise or rescind the 2015 WOTUS Rule, Pruitt is taking strides to clarify this rule by sitting down with agriculturalists across the country to hear their concerns. Pruitt has traveled to over 15 states, including appearing in Guymon at the town hall–style meeting.

More than 90 local farmers and ranchers from the surrounding area attended the meeting at the Hitch Enterprise Annex building.

Administrator Pruitt opened the discussion by sharing his plan for the Environmental Protection Agency and the direction he sees the agency going in the next four years. He is focusing on the process of hearing the concerns of the people and taking this into consideration before making a final determination. A key item on Pruitt’s agenda is clarifying the 2015 WOTUS rule.

“As we do rule making, as an agency, it’s our job to hear from you,” Pruitt said. “The last time this rule [2015 WOTUS Rule] was adopted this didn’t happen. This dialogue is very important to us.”

After remarks from Pruitt, the floor was opened for questions. Several area farmers welcomed the administrator and voiced their approval of the work that he is doing in the few short months he has been at the agency.

The topic of conversation was focused around WOTUS and how Administrator Pruitt and his team can better clarify the rule in the lawmaking process later this year. Pruitt’s goal is for the replacement definition to be finalized by the end of the first quarter in 2018.

Several speakers requested that the definition be kept simple and clearly outline what is and is not considered Waters of the United States.

“This agency going forward is going to make sure we get it right,” Pruitt said. “But at the end of the day, we trust you and we know that you are a partner in the process.”

The administrator said that agriculturalists are the original conservationists. Jerry Wiebe, farmer in Texas County, Oklahoma, and a water pioneer, helped organize and plan the meeting along with Jason Hitch, owner of Hitch Enterprises. Wiebe has been faming in Texas County for over 50 years with an emphasis on water conservation.

“Clarification of this rule will give us a base line moving forward,” he said. “We’ll know that what is put into place today we can count on and rely on in the future.”

Kyle Hilbert, Oklahoma state representative for District 29, was excited about the benefits for Oklahoma farmers and ranchers.

“This is something that will bring about long lasting change,” said Rep. Hilbert. “To have the definition of Waters of the United States back to its original intent will be huge, not only for Oklahoma but for the United States.”

Pruitt said he would continue speaking to producers across the country and is adamant about hearing their voices before he decides on any future rulings.