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New Clean Water Rule Under Review

The American Farm Bureau says it’s still reviewing EPA’s final Waters of the U.S. rule. However – based on EPA’s aggressive advocacy campaign in support of its original proposal – and alleged misstatements about its content and impact – AFBF President Bob Stallman says Farm Bureau finds little comfort in EPA’s assurances that concerns have been addressed.

AFBF’s Don Parrish…

“The way the are approaching the press, indicates that anyone who would oppose this are polluters. Farmers are not polluters and we have a real problem with the administration if they will not take our concerns seriously.”

EPA argues the new rule keeps Clean Water Act exemptions for agriculture and adds 56 conservation practices that will be exempt from dredge or fill permit requirements.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the final rule preserves current exemptions for agriculture and doesn’t cover things like tile drainage systems, regular farm activities or moving livestock…

“We are doing that without creating any new permitting requirements and maintaining all previous exemptions. This rule is about clarification and we are adding exclusions for artificial lakes, water filled depressions from construction and others. This will make it easier to identify protected waters and will make those protections consistent with the law and the latest peer reviewed science. This rule is based on science.”

McCarthy says the new rule would only expand the reach of the Clean Water Act by about three-percent.

And Jo-Ellen Darcy – Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works – says the new Clean Water Rule clarifies which waters are covered and which ones aren’t…

“Traditional, navigable waters like rivers and lakes, interstate waters and territorial feeds are covered as they always have been. Tributaries which science defines by the physical signs of flowing water, are included because they carry pollution downstream. Features that don’t meet the definition of a tributary, like erosional features like gullies, are not covered. The rule maintains the current practice on ditches, only those that look and act like a tributary are covered because they carry pollution downstream.”

South Dakota Senator John Thune says members of Congress who oppose the rule will do what they can to stop its implementation…

“I am co-sponsoring a bill that would block this EPA powergrab. I am working with colleagues to try to stop this. We will use all of the tools that we have at our disposal.”

Thune says now that EPA has decided to go final with the rule – it will have profound, negative impacts on the way people do things across the country'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.