EPA's Waters of the U.S. Proposal Open for Comment
April 25, 2014

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week posted the proposed definition for waters of the United States protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA) in the Federal Register. Comments will be accepted until July 21.

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman said the proposal "poses a serious threat to farmers, ranchers and other landowners."

In a statement, he said the exemptions for agriculture included in the proposal "do not protect farmers from federal veto power over pest and weed control, fertilizer application and other essential farming activities."

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that current exemptions for CWA permits for "normal farming, ranching and agricultural practices" are kept intact in the proposal. "If a farmer was not legally required to have a permit before, this rule does not change that status," she said. The proposal "does not add to or expand the scope of waters protected under the CWA," McCarthy said.

According to the EPA, the proposed definition of waters of the United States would increase predictability and consistency for CWA programs.

The proposed rules is available at www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=COE_FRDOC_0001-0673.