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EPA's Proposed Rule on "Waters of the U.S."

Following are several articles on the EPA's proposed rule on "Waters of the US".  They are from the Farm Bureau and Morning Ag Clips

Feds turning puddles into dangerous waters.  Leaders speak out against 'overly broad' Clean Water Act language

 Rep. Chris Collins, backed by State Farm Bureau President Dean Norton, Stein Farms Senior Partner Dale Stein and County Legislator Shelley Stein, discussed efforts to dissuade the EPA from enacting an "overly broad" definition of navigable waters. Collins said the plan would hurt dairies like Stein Farms during a visit to the Le Roy farm Tuesday. (Rocco Laurienzo, Daily News)

Jim Krencik, The Daily News | April 16, 2014

LE ROY, N.Y. — Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, is raising alarm that Clean Water Act revisions under EPA and Army Corps of Engineers consideration would expand the waterways under federal authority — and constrict farm families’ control over their fields.

The EPA and Army Corps introduced a proposed rule last month that would clarify protection for which streams, wetlands and water sources are protected by federal rules.

According to the EPA, the proposed rule would continue exemptions for agriculture by not covering groundwater, tile drains nor protect any new types of water found on farmland. 

To view the rest of the story, please click the following link:
Feds turning puddles into dangerous waters



E.P.A.’s Proposed Rules on Water Worry Farmers,” a New York Times article by Ron Nixon, explores how new rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency could affect farmers, particularly provisions that require them to get permits for work for which they have long been exempt. Expanded EPA jurisdiction is likely to be costly and time-consuming for farmers. Don Parrish, senior director of regulatory relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation, noted in the article that EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have a lot of authority to interpret the rules as they choose, despite reassurances from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and agency officials that farm work will not be curtailed. “They can say farmers won’t be impacted by this expansion of authority, but the truth is we just don’t know,” Parrish said. “And from what we have seen from the draft of the regulations, it’s really hard to tell.”



Andy Johnson built a stock pond on his eight-acre Wyoming farm and is now being harangued by the Environmental Protection Agency, which is threatening him with civil and criminal penalties up to and including $75,000 a day in fines. Johnson says he followed state rules when constructing the stock pond in 2012 and has an April 4-dated letter from the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office to prove it. EPA officials claim Johnson violated the Clean Water Act by building a dam on a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, and that material from his pond is being discharged into other waterways. Johnson says the stock pond he built—a man-made pond designed to attract wildlife—is exempt from Clean Water Act regulations. The story has generated a fair amount of media attention. “Expanded EPA jurisdiction is going to mean headaches like this for farmers and ranchers everywhere,” said Don Parrish, senior director of congressional relations at AFBF. Source: FoxNews.com story


Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding EPA’s Proposed ‘Waters’ Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 1, 2014 – “Last week, the American Farm Bureau Federation carefully reviewed EPA’s March 25 release of the ‘waters of the U.S.’ proposed rule. The results of our review are dismaying.

“The EPA proposal poses a serious threat to farmers, ranchers and other landowners. Under EPA’s proposed new rule, waters – even ditches – are regulated even if they are miles from the nearest ‘navigable’ waters. Indeed, so-called ‘waters’ are regulated even if they aren’t wet most of the time. EPA says its new rule will reduce uncertainty, and that much seems to be true: there isn’t much uncertainty if most every feature where water flows or stands after a rainfall is federally regulated.

“Under this proposed rule, farmers, ranchers and every other landowner across the countryside will face a tremendous new roadblock to ordinary land use activities. This is not just about the paperwork of getting a permit to farm, or even about having farming practices regulated. The fact is there is no legal right to a Clean Water Act permit – if farming or ranching activities need a permit, EPA or the Army Corps of Engineers can deny that permit. That’s why Clean Water Act jurisdiction over farmlands amounts to nothing less than federal veto power over a farmer’s ability to farm.

“EPA accompanied its proposal with a new ‘interpretive rule’ claiming to clarify certain statutory exemptions for agricultural conservation practices, including activities as commonplace and essential to farming as building a fence. But these exemptions apply only to ‘dredge and fill’ permit requirements. They do not protect farmers from federal veto power over pest and weed control, fertilizer application, and other essential farming activities that may result in the addition of ‘pollutants’ to ‘navigable waters,’ – providing one views every ditch and wet spot across the landscape as ‘navigable waters.’

“The American Farm Bureau Federation will dedicate itself to opposing this attempted end run around the limits set by Congress and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that Congress meant what it said: ‘navigable waters’ does not mean all waters. This proposed rule shows that EPA refuses to accept those limits.”


Farm Bureau Fights EPA, Tells Members to ‘Ditch the Rule’

April 24, 2014

The American Farm Bureau Federation today asked its members to resist a proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency that it says will impose unworkable regulations on the nation’s farms.

Published Monday in the Federal Register, the more-than-111,000-word “Waters of the U.S.” proposed rule reflects the EPA’s latest interpretation of the 1972 Clean Water Act. The rule could ultimately lead to the unlawful expansion of federal regulation to cover routine farming and ranching practices as well as other common private land uses, such as building homes.

“This rule is an end run around congressional intent and rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, alike,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “Congress and the courts have both said that the 50 states, not EPA, have power to decide how farming and other land uses should be restricted. It’s time to ditch this rule.”

Comments from a Michigan Farm Bureau member

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a new rule under the Clean Water Act that redefines what can be regulated as a Water of the United States. It is open for public comment for 90 days from the date it is published in the Federal Register, which should happen very soon. The points below summarize the impact this new rule will have on the agriculture industry.

The proposed rule is an overreach by the EPA and the Obama Administration needs to direct the EPA to rescind the rule. Farmers and agricultural organizations should engage members of Congress to help in encouraging administrative action. Responses directly to EPA explaining the rule’s negative impact will also be needed to stop the implementation of this rule.

  • Congress and the Supreme Court have stated repeatedly that the Clean Water Act is not meant to regulate all waters (its original intent was to protect waters involved in interstate commerce), but the proposed EPA rule ignores this directive.
  • This proposed rule turns regulation of WATER into regulation of LAND, and turns the rule into a property rights issue. EPA jurisdiction over these lands will interfere with the ability to farm.
  • Man-made private agricultural drains, intermittent streams, and water and wetlands in riparian and floodplain areas will now be regulated regardless of how infrequently they have water in them, and will be used to determine that small and otherwise isolated wetlands are Water of the United States. This will also mean Michigan’s wetlands law will be out of compliance with the Clean Water Act, which may make us lose our delegated authority.
  • Agricultural exemptions under the Clean Water Act do not cover the normal farming practices of leveling or earth moving, or application of manure, chemical fertilizers, or pesticides. They also ONLY apply to land already under cultivation. The rule will restrict agriculture in new areas regulated as Waters of the United States.
  • Permitting will become more difficult. EPA has no time limit or requirement to grant permits, and their mitigation requirements will mean long delays and huge expenses for farmers, and in many more areas than before.


The proposed rule


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