Proposal to Repeal Waters of the US Rule Introduced

Legislation has been introduced which, if passed, will repeal the EPA’s proposed Waters of the US law. The latest move comes with bipartisan support. If passed the EPA and the Army Corps will have to withdraw their rule and re-write it. They will have to follow the definitions that are included in the bill which are there to limit how far any new rules may go.

Philip Ellis, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said that the fact that the rule was finalized only six months after receiving over 1 million comments shows that the EPA was not interested in listening to the variety of stakeholders and simply pushed forward with the problematic rule.

Several farm groups were against the Interpretive Rule which had 56 exemptions for “normal farming and ranching” under the Natural Resources Conservation Service regulations. These groups said that the utilization of these practices as CWA exemptions would change farmer-NRCS interaction and interfere and discourage environmental best practices. In the past these practices have been voluntary, and the farming practices were exempt from the permit process.

“Our concern with the initial proposal from last year is that it could have altered the long-standing and productive relationship between farmers and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, in a way that would have made it harder for farmers to implement water conservation measures,” said Jamie Jonker, vice president for sustainability and scientific affairs for the National Milk Producers Federation.

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