(Posted Tue. Jun 2nd, 2015)
An internal review of the new Clean Water Rule released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows that there is much for farmers to be concerned about and that the rule must be revoked and rewritten, the National Corn Growers Association said.
“The scope, reach and effect of the final rule is far too broad as matter of law and good policy,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a Maryland farmer. “While it is clear that there have been some changes made to improve the rule as it applies to farmers, these changes only partially work. At the same time, other changes have been made that actually make the rule significantly worse than the previous proposal.”
Bowling especially noted concerns about prairie potholes and similar bodies of water that can now be regulated by the federal government under the broad reach of the rule; ambiguous standards related to defining tributaries that will be covered; erosional features that may or may not be covered under the regulation, depending on decisions from field personnel; and the exclusion from the rule of grass waterways with the implication that their construction would still require a federal permit.
“Farmers need clear and workable regulations,” Bowling said. “This nearly 300-page rule is neither clear nor workable and only adds to confusion. When there’s confusion, there are unnecessary delays and costs for our growers. Time and again, we’ve made our needs known to the EPA. Time and again, it becomes clear they have not been listening.”
NCGA calls on the Senate to pass the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, which would require the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the rule and develop a new rule in consultation with state and local governments and key stakeholders. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill on May 12 with a vote of 261-155.