Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

EPA Move to Rewrite Water Rule Risks Removing Clarity for Agriculture

News / Newsline June 10, 2021

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The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers this week announced intent to repeal and replace the Navigable Waters Protection rule. Micheal Clements shares more on what this means for farmers and ranchers.

Clements: The American Farm Bureau Federation calls the intent to rewrite the Navigable Waters Protection rule a blow to agriculture. Don Parrish, AFBF Senior Director of Regulatory Relations, says the focus of the rewrite is concerning.

Parrish: There's a little bit of confusion about exactly what EPA is proposing here but they are definitely saying that they are going to repeal and replace. They're focused on ephemeral features, and adjacent wetlands. What they're going to do is probably take a significant step back from the clarity that the Navigable Waters Protection rule provides.

Clements: Parrish says the concern is returning to burdensome and unclear regulations.

Parrish: When you start talking about ephemeral features, features that are ditches or even less than ditches, they only have water in them when it rains, all of a sudden you're really kind of glossing over the fact that you're regulating land use, as opposed to water. If that's their target, the whole issue of where water ends and land begins, there's a real question mark on the landscape, and it's going to create all kinds of issues.

Clements: Parrish adds the issue is whether the rule protects water or regulates land use.

Parrish: I don't know where this is going, but it is clearly going to be a really detailed and a really significant fight and I need farmers and ranchers to understand that this is not a fight about protecting water quality, because the Navigable Waters Protection rule does that, this is a fight over land use.

Clements: Learn more at fb.org/issues. Micheal Clements, Washington.

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Ag groups are ready to fight for the Navigable Waters Protection Rule after EPA announced its intent to rewrite it. Farmers are highlighting concern fearing the new rule will be similar to the 2015 version.

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