Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers, Nebraska State Dairy Association and Nebraska Soybean Association submitted comments today calling for the immediate withdrawal of the “Waters of the U.S.” Interpretive Rule (WOTUS). This Interpretive Rule is the first part of a “Waters of the U.S.” rulemaking proposal by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The second part, a Jurisdictional Rule, has a comment deadline of July 21st.
The Interpretive Rule has been touted as beneficial to agriculture; however, these claims by EPA are misleading. In reality, the Interpretive Rule significantly increases liability for farmers and ranchers in Nebraska, deceives the public and will hurt conservation efforts and water quality.
EPA claims the Interpretive Rule “exempts” certain Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation practices from Clean Water Act permitting requirements. However, these practices were already exempt and the creation of a list actually narrows this existing exemption from Clean Water Act permitting.
The agency also claims this rule provide “assurances” to the agricultural community. The truth is it adds complexity and can be modified or retracted at any time without public notice or comment.
Finally, EPA asserts the Interpretive Rule will “benefit” conservation efforts. But, the rule discourages engaging in conservation practices because of unknown parameters and new risk of Clean Water Act penalties. It also turns NRCS, an agency with a long standing relationship of partnering with landowners in voluntary conservation, in to a regulatory enforcement agency.
It is clear the Interpretive Rule is just another ploy by EPA to push its burdensome regulatory agenda and any claim by EPA otherwise is false.
For more information visit ditchtherule.fb.org.