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Extension of comment period expands opportunity to fight proposed water rule

—By Kathleen M. Dutro
Public Relations Team

Thanks to pressure from the agricultural community, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has extended the comment period for its proposed Clean Water Act rule.

“The new schedule gives us until October 20 to comment on the Waters of the United States rule, and until July 7 to comment on the accompanying interpretive rule,” said American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman. “Rest assured we will use that time to its best advantage. We will ditch this rule.

“This is a victory for farming families and a clear signal that America’s farmers know how to stand up and be counted,” he added.

AFBF contends that EPA has misled the regulated community about the rule’s impacts on land use.

According to AFBF, the proposal broadly expands federal jurisdiction and threatens local land-use and zoning authority.

In testimony delivered June 11 to the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Stallman said the EPA’s proposal to regulate everyday farming practices isn’t just impractical – it’s illegal.

“The EPA ‘Waters of the U.S.’ proposal broadly expands federal jurisdiction,” Stallman said. “It threatens local land-use and zoning authority, and is an end-run around Congress and the Supreme Court.”

The EPA claims that farmers would face less regulation under its latest proposal. In fact, the rule would micro-manage farming via newly-mandated procedures for fencing, spraying, weeding and more. Permitting, meanwhile, could delay time-sensitive tasks for months, potentially ruining crops in the process.

“EPA is deliberately misleading the regulated community about the impacts on land use. If more people knew how regulators could use the proposed rule to require permits for common activities on dry land, or penalize landowners for not getting them, they would be outraged,” Stallman said.

The Clean Water Act was signed into law in 1972 with the clear purpose of protecting the nation’s waters from pollution of all sorts. Congress gave states, not the EPA, the primary responsibility to oversee land use. The latest proposal would turn that relationship on its head.

Farm Bureau, together with dozens of other farm and industry groups, is fighting the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. overreach. Find out more about the nationwide campaign at ditchtherule.fb.org and more about Indiana Farm Bureau’s own efforts at www.infb.org/waterrule.

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