EPA Extends Waters of the U.S. Comment Period

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers have extended the public comment period for a proposed rule that defines the Waters of the U.S. that fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

The extension was in response to a number of requests received by the agencies involved with the rule, EPA said. Originally slated to end July 21, the extension gives the public an additional 91 days – or until Oct. 20 – to submit comments.

According to the EPA, the rule is designed to clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands. Farm Bureau has carefully analyzed the proposal. Simply put, EPA and the Corps are now attempting to regulate virtually all water, something Congress has explicitly chosen not to allow and which two U.S. Supreme Court decisions have rejected.

The EPA proposal also includes an interpretive rule that the agency says ensures that 56 specific conservation practices that protect or improve water quality and are conducted in conformance with the standards of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will not be subject to Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting requirements for discharges of dredged or fill material. The comment period on the interpretive rule has also been extended by 30 days, until July 7.

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman released the following statement regarding the extension of the comment period.  

“The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased the EPA has extended the time available to comment on new and highly burdensome clean water rules. This is a victory for farming families and a clear signal that America’s farmers know how to stand up and be counted.

“EPA has misled the regulated community about the rule’s impacts on land use. If more people knew how regulators want to require permits for common activities on dry land, or penalize landowners for not getting them, they would be outraged.

“This latest rule broadly expands federal jurisdiction and threatens local land-use and zoning authority. Simply put, it is an end-run around Congress and the Supreme Court. I look forward to expanding on our position in testimony tomorrow before the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment.

“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. Rest assured we will use that time to its best advantage. We will ditch this rule.”

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