In comments to the EPA regarding the agency's Waters of the U.S. proposal, the National Milk Producers Federation said EPA should further clarify what waters fall under the policy, and what waters do not.
The draft regulation, NMPF said, doesn't provide that clarity.
NMPF asked EPA to clarify numerous terms in the draft, including "other waters," "upland ditches," ''floodplain,'' ''tributary,'' and ''significant nexus." In addition, it urged that any final regulation exclude from federal jurisdiction intermittent streams and wetlands adjacent to excluded streams.
NMPF also asked EPA to publish maps clearly indicating the features that make a waterway covered under the CWA.
"Clean water is essential to milk production and the dairy industry is very willing to work with EPA to protect U.S. waters," said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. "But EPA's draft would only lead to more confusion and uncertainty around which waterways fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. In addition, it would intrude on state responsibilities and do nothing to actually stop pollution."
"This doesn't help dairy farmers and doesn't meet the requirements of the Supreme Court rulings that triggered the need for the regulation," Mulhern said.
NMPF submitted 23 pages of comments on the EPA regulation, along with additional comment on EPA guidance for when farmers must seek CWA permits for a long list of normal farming activities near wetlands.
The draft WOTUS regulation, issued in March, expanded the waterways covered under the Clean Water Act to nearly all those connected to U.S. navigable waters. Many opponents argued the draft would have a devastating impact, particularly on agriculture.
NMPF first urged the EPA to rethink the regulation last spring, citing its "ambiguities and uncertainties." A subsequent NMPF analysis demonstrated that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers' proposal does not meet the requirements of various Supreme Court rulings that were the catalyst for the development of the regulation.
"As a result," Mulhern said, "the proposed regulation does not provide certainty for the dairy industry, and it needs to be reworked, either through this comment process, or with a new proposal from the agency."
Comments on the proposed rule closed Nov. 14.
Read more about the Waters of the U.S. proposal:
EPA Review Board Stands By Waters of the U.S. Proposal
House Approves Bill Limiting EPA's Waters of the U.S. Proposal
EPA Opens Comments on Waters of the US Language
Senators Request Withdrawal of Waters of the U.S. Interpretive Rule
Waters of the U.S. Support Issued by 8 Attorneys General
AFBF Letter Cites SBA's Review of the Waters of the U.S. Proposal