Farm Bureau and other agricultural and business organizations have expressed concerns about the rule, which was issued earlier this year by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. Opponents of the rule assert that the EPA and the Corps are attempting to regulate virtually all water in the United States, in defiance of Congress and two U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
Historically, normal farming and conservation activities such as fencing, brush management and pruning shrubs and trees have been exempted by Congress from permitting under the Clean Water Act. The proposed EPA rule would require farmers and ranchers to meet otherwise voluntary standards for those activities established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service or else face Clean Water Act liability. In linking the normal farming exemptions to NRCS standards, rule opponents note, the rule would make voluntary conservation standards subject to EPA enforcement.
Information on how to participate in the EPA public commend period can be found atditchtherule.fb.org. The comment period will end Nov. 14, and Congress will return to Washington in mid-November. In September, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5078, which would prohibit the EPA and the Corps from implementing a rule that broadens the scope of the Clean Water Act.