Farm Groups Correspond with EPA on Waters of the US Rule

Farm Groups Correspond with EPA on Waters of the US Rule

NFU asks for clarification, AFBF suggests agency characterizations of Waters of the U.S. proposed rule changes aren't accurate

Both the National Farmers Union and the American Farm Bureau continue to have questions and concerns for the U.S. EPA's latest proposed rule regarding waters of the U.S.

In a letter sent Thursday to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson asked for more information about which waters are covered in the latest "waters of the U.S." proposed rule.

The letter was a follow-up to a conference call held this week between the Administrator and members of the NFU board of directors.

Related: EPA May Spend Summer Defending Waters of the U.S. Rule

NFU asks for clarification, AFBF suggests agency characterizations of rule changes aren't accurate

"During our call, a number of questions were raised by NFU board members," Johnson wrote.  "The board asked for clarity surrounding some of the definitions in the proposed rule.  The general sense was that the proposed rule has created less clarity, not more as intended."

More clarity is a call the American Farm Bureau is also making, citing several instances in which the organization believes the EPA has mischaracterized changes in the latest rule.

AFBF says a recent EPA blog post authored by Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner includes "numerous inaccurate and misleading comments" about the rule.

"AFBF and several state Farm Bureaus have met with the EPA repeatedly, and each time agency officials have declined to grapple with the serious, real world implications of the rule," AFBF President Bob Stallman said. "EPA is now engaged in an intensive public relations campaign, and we believe its statements are directly contrary to the reality of the proposed rule.

While NFU's Johnson acknowledged the EPA's efforts to listen to the agriculture community, he said more information must be made available to rural America to "alleviate confusion and resentment."

Related: House Bill Joins Senate Effort to Derail EPA's Waters Rule

Johnson suggested that EPA's proposed reductions in the Renewable Fuel Standard likely contributed to a more negative reaction to the WOTUS proposed rule.

Ultimately, NFU asked EPA to provide a map with estimates of which bodies of water will be considered jurisdictional to EPA's regulation.  Questions were also posed about wetlands in the Prairie Pothole region, coordination with state agencies and the treatment of unconnected bodies of water that are seasonal.

Interested stakeholders have until Oct. 20 to comment on the rule via the Federal Register, an extension of the original comment period, which was scheduled to end July 21.

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