On the 28 of August, Oregon, along with New York, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia, joined together in a motion to intervene in the Sixth Circuit on behalf of EPA. Oregon’s involvement in the motion creates cause for Oregon cattlemen to wonder if the state cares about the well-being of Oregon’s number one agricultural commodity, cattle and calves.
Past OCA president and current Oregon rancher Sharon Livingston is frustrated with Oregon’s boisterous support of WOTUS. “Oregon ranchers need to use water,” she said. “We don’t need EPA and the federal government regulating our water because we have 38 management areas and each area has an agriculture quality management plan.” Livingston said the plans are under evaluation every two years to ensure they are up-to-date and that they have been effective for managing water.
Oregon Cattlemen’s leadership also weighed in on the recent attorney generals decision to support WOTUS. “The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association is very disappointed that Oregon Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum has moved to intervene in support of Waters of the United States,” said Executive Director Jerome Rosa. “The association opposes the rule due to ambiguous language that leaves regulatory concerns open to the discretion of EPA, causing heightened vulnerability to ranchers, farmers and landowners across the United States.”
He added he does not believe the state’s outward support of WOTUS affects the cattlemen’s lawsuit with Pacific Legal Foundation against WOTUS. “The association will continue to move forward with our lawsuit,” Rosa said.
In Douglas County, current OCA treasurer and rancher Nathan Jackson was floored when he heard the news. Jackson said as an Oregon rancher and promoter of Oregon agriculture, this move makes him feel unsupported by the state. “By supporting more federal regulation over water quality, the state is undermining local control and solutions that work best for local communities.”
Livingston echoes Jackson’s sentiment. “It (Oregon’s support of WOTUS) shows that the state of Oregon is not supportive of agriculture.” Livingston said efforts have been made to contact the state with rancher’s concerns by way of letters, emails and phone calls, but they have yet to receive a response.
Despite the state of Oregon’s bold move in supporting WOTUS, Jackson hopes they will consider its detrimental effect on Oregon ranching and agriculture and have a change of heart. “I would hope that the state would be a valiant supporter of state rights and take responsibility for our natural resources, communities, and economy. In this case, that means not supporting WOTUS.”
The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association was founded in 1913 and works to promote environmentally and socially sound industry practices, improve and strengthen the economics of the industry, and protect its industry communities and private property rights.
By Kayli Hanley