American Farm Bureau Federation

The American Farm Bureau Federation is the unified national voice of agriculture, working through our grassroots organizations to enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans and to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities.

 

Ditch The Rule

The purpose of this initiative is to help you answer questions about the “waters of the U.S.” proposed rule and to provide resources to make it easier for the public to engage in the campaign to fight the rule as currently proposed.

It’s Time to Ditch The Rule

Puddles, ponds, ditches, ephemerals (land that looks like a small stream during heavy rain but isn’t wet most of the time) and isolated wetlands dot the nation’s farmland. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) on March 25 issued a proposed rule that would expand its regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to these types of land features and waters, giving the agencies the power to dictate land-use decisions and farming practices in or near them. The rule will make it more difficult to farm or change a farming operation to remain competitive and profitable.
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Comment on the Proposed Rule


Not What Congress Had in Mind

EPA’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act would expand immensely under its proposed Waters of the U.S. Rule. Among the numerous questionable provisions, the rule would define “navigable waters” so as to regulate countless ephemeral drains, ditches and “wetlands” that only contain water when it rains. But whether they are wet or dry on any given day, farming, home building, business expansions, commercial development and countless other land uses in or near these land features will require a federal permit. Permits might take years, or might never be issued. The result amounts to nothing short of federal zoning authority.

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Let’s Map EPA’s Overreach

EPA and the Corps are now attempting to regulate virtually all water. AFBF has read the fine print of the rule and looked at maps of “waters” that would be newly regulated by the federal government and our analysis is frightening!

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Let’s read the fine print

Recently, the EPA’s acting assistant administrator for water questioned the validity of concerns raised by the American Farm Bureau Federation and others regarding the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule.

Let’s take a look at EPA’s comments together.

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Does EPA have the right to do what it is proposing?

EPA clearly thinks it does, but the Supreme Court has said in two separate decisions that there are limits to EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act. If the agency can regulate every water body from the largest to the smallest, and even those areas that aren’t wet most of the time, as it is proposing in this rule, then there are effectively no limits to the agency’s regulatory reach.

Tweet Your Voice

Congress, not federal agencies, makes the laws. #WOTUS #DitchTheRule

Ditch the Rule

Learn why EPA’s attempt to redefine the Clean Water Act is regulatory overreach and unnecessary.

Tell EPA it’s time to DitchTheRule!

What will actually be different under the proposed rule?

EPA claims in its promotional materials that it is not broadening coverage of the Clean Water Act. However, the details of the rule itself say otherwise.

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Tweet Your Voice

Ditches & puddles are not navigable. #DitchTheRule

I’ve heard that the rule would restore protections that existed before the Supreme Court rulings. Is that correct?

Advocates for the proposed rule claim that it would restore protections that existed before the Supreme Court’s decisions in 2001 and 2006; however, that is a gross misinterpretation. The court upheld the limits that already existed in the Clean Water Act. EPA might have behaved as if it had the authority to regulate every puddle and ditch in the country, but that doesn’t mean it was right.

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For me … the EPA and Corps Clean Water regulations could literally make farming a large portion of our land impossible.”

Katie Heger
How will those waters be protected if EPA doesn’t regulate them?

EPA’s implication that only the federal government is capable of protecting small bodies of water is not supported by science or facts, and EPA certainly has not provided any evidence to support that assertion.

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Stop EPA Overreach, Farm Bureau’s Stallman Tells Congress

“It threatens local land-use and zoning authority, and is an end-run around Congress and the Supreme Court.”

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Tweet Your Voice

The EPA #WOTUS rule gives the fed gov control over all farming & land use. #DitchTheRule

EPA says it will exempt farmers from the rule, so why are they concerned?

First, the exemptions are extremely narrow. They only apply to one part of the CWA, the section 404 “dredge and fill” permit program. The rule provides no protection from enforcement over other activities, such as weed control, fertilizer applications and any number of other common farm activities that may trigger CWA liability and permit requirements.

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Proposed Rule

Definition of Waters of the United States Under the Clean Water Act | Waters of the U.S. | US EPA

Related Article

GOP lawmakers push EPA to ax proposed water rule amid outcry from farmers

So, farmers have to get permits. What’s so bad about that?

There is absolutely no legal right to a permit to “discharge” into “navigable” waters—or any deadline on an agency’s process to issue a permit. Permitting may take months or even years, or permits may simply be unavailable.

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Will this affect other people besides farmers?

EPA has said the proposed rule will benefit businesses by making it easier to determine if a body of water is covered by the Clean Water Act. Indeed, it is easier if everything is covered. But that certainly doesn’t save anyone from the costs and burdens of increased regulation.

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AFBF Statement

Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding EPA’s Proposed ‘Waters’ Rule – The Voice of Agriculture – American Farm Bureau

Tweet Your Voice

The EPA #WOTUS rule would regulate land use without cleaner lakes & rivers. #DitchTheRule

It sounds like EPA needs to go back to the drawing board. How do we get them to do that?

EPA and the Corps have given the public until Oct. 20, 2014, to comment on the proposed rule. Farm Bureau is asking the agency to extend that comment period by another 90 days, because the proposed rule is 370 pages long, complex and comes at a time of year when most farmers are busy planting and growing crops.

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If dry farm fields and ordinary farm ditches and ponds are allowed to be regulated as "waters of the U.S.," farming and ranching will suffer and so will those who depend on agriculture for food.

Chris Chinn
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Related Article

E.P.A.’s Proposed Rules on Water Worry Farmers

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