(Posted Tue. Mar 25th, 2014)
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jointly released a proposed rule that seeks to clarify stream and wetland protections covered under the Clean Water Act. At this time, the National Corn Growers Association is reviewing the 370-page draft and plans to submit official comments to Federal Register during the 90-day public comment period.
NCGA will examine the rule to ensure that it provides greater certainty for farmers as to which waters fall under Clean Water Act jurisdiction while honoring all existing protections for farming practices.
In communications accompanying the release, the EPA directly addressed the relevance of the proposed rule to agriculture.
“The proposed rule preserves the Clean Water Act exemptions and exclusions for agriculture,” the release stated. “Additionally, EPA and the Army Corps have coordinated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop an interpretive rule to ensure that 53 specific conservation practices that protect or improve water quality will not be subject to Section 404 dredged or fill permitting requirements. The agencies will work together to implement these new exemptions and periodically review, and update USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation practice standards and activities that would qualify under the exemption. Any agriculture activity that does not result in the discharge of a pollutant to waters of the U.S. still does not require a permit.”
In the fall of 2013, NCGA submitted comments on Water Body Connectivity Report, which serves as the scientific basis for this rule. These comments outlined both the positive and the potentially flawed portions of the draft report, urging a handful of crucial concerns be taken into consideration.
To read the full proposed rule and for further information, click here.
To view the comments submitted by NCGA on the Water Body Connectivity Report, click here.