The American Farm Bureau Federation submitted comments Monday to the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers regarding proposed changes to the Waters of the U.S. Rule. Courtney Briggs, Farm Bureau Senior Director of Congressional Relations, explains the details of the comments.
“We highlighted the problems with this proposed rule which range from the incredibly vague terms that they’re using to establish jurisdiction, to the claim that they made about this rule having zero impact on the regulated community. And we spent a fair amount of time talking about the many benefits of the Navigable Waters Protection rule and the importance of the exclusions and exemptions, particularly prior-converted cropland.”
Briggs says the proposed changes would be harmful for farmers and ranchers. “This proposal would greatly expand the federal government’s reach over private property, and in particular, it would allow the agencies to regulate ephemeral features, ditches, low spots in a farm field. So, it’s incredibly concerning that federal protections and federal compliance will be associated with a low spot in a farm pasture.”
With the comment period closing, the EPA and Army Corps now turn their attention to finalizing the rule.
“I would anticipate that we see a finalized rule sometime this year. And if you remember back in the summer of last year, the EPA and the Corps said that they would rewrite the WOTUS definition in a two-step process. but it really remains to be seen if the agencies will embark on that step two rulemaking. And finally, most folks who are closely monitoring the WOTUS fight have turned their attention to the Supreme Court because the high court will be hearing the Sackett case later this year, which may provide an opportunity for the court to draw a bright line of jurisdiction.”
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