Clements: The Environmental Protection Agency recently opened the comment period on the revised definition of Waters of the United States that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act. The comment period allows farmers and ranchers to tell the EPA how the new Clean Water Rule improves the flawed 2015 rule. Don Parrish, American Farm Bureau Federation senior director of regulatory relations, says the new rule simplifies the regulation.
Parrish: Farmers and ranchers want to be protective of water quality, but they also don’t want the federal government stepping over the line or using the Clean Water Act to regulate land use. That’s what the old rule did. This rule, we think, draws a very clear distinction between land and water.
Clements: Parrish says the proposal changes definitions within the rule making it easier to understand what is regulated and what is not.
Parrish: The first definition is the definition of a tributary. The old rule included any feature that had a bed, bank and ordinary high-water mark. That included things that only had water in it during rainfall events. It is also very clear that wetlands need to be adjacent waters and tributaries that are Waters of the U.S. for them to be regulated, otherwise they’re isolated intrastate waters and they’re regulated at the state level. This rule clarifies all of that.
Clements: The comment period will close on April 15. Parrish says farmers and ranchers have an opportunity to tell regulators how the rule impacts their operation.
Parrish: This is a real opportunity to push this rule over the finish line. Go out on regulations.gov, find the regulatory docket and submit a comment in support of this rule. Maybe explain a little bit about why this rule and the clarity that this rule provides is needed.
Clements: Farmers can also submit comments through Farm Bureau’s Clean Water Rule Advocacy page at www.fb.org. Micheal Clements, Washington.