June 13, 2014

Nebraska Ag Groups Say No to EPA's Water Rule


Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers, Nebraska State Dairy Association and Nebraska Soybean Association submitted comments 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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has extended the comment period on its controversial "Waters of the U.S." rule to October 20th.  The comment period was scheduled to end July 21st.

The rule would expand the number of waterways subject to pollution controls under the federal Clean Water Act.

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.

"Farmers should be worried about WOTUS and the far reaching implications it could have on their operations," NeCGA President, Joel Grams.

For more information visit http://ditchtherule.fb.org/

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