(Posted Mon. Feb 2nd, 2015)
The National Corn Growers Association today applauded the withdrawal of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) interpretive rule and called for continued dialogue between the Environmental Protection Agency and the agricultural community.
The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers withdrew the interpretive rule on Jan. 29, citing a requirement by Congress included in last year’s “cromnibus” appropriations bill. The interpretive rule was intended to clarify normal farming activities exempt from the Clean Water Act.
“Farmers have a lot of concerns about WOTUS,” said Maryland farmer Chip Bowling, president of NCGA. “What we need is clarity. The interpretive rule actually made things less clear. We hope that the withdrawal of the interpretive rule will allow us to get to the true matter at hand: how the Clean Water Act is administered.”
NCGA had called for the withdrawal of the interpretive rule in its formal comments to the EPA and Corps last year. NCGA has also called for significant changes to the WOTUS rule itself, and will continue to work with EPA through the rulemaking process. A final rule is expected this spring.
Bowling stressed the importance of working with the EPA and giving farmers a voice during the process.
“Last October, I brought EPA officials to my farm so they could see firsthand how a farm the proposed rules would actually apply in practice. It was a productive conversation. To the EPA, I want to say: thank you for listening. I think both sides learned a lot,” said Bowling.
“We need to continue that dialogue, on WOTUS and beyond. We can all agree that clean water is important. Farmers are committed to improving water quality and conservation practices. We look forward to working with Administrator McCarthy and the EPA as they finalize the WOTUS rule, to ensure it is clear and workable for farmers.”