GAO legal opinion: EPA violated law regarding ‘Waters’ rule

newspaperAccording to a legal opinion issued Dec. 14 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency broke the law with social media and grassroots lobbying campaigns advocating for its “Waters of the U.S.” rule.

“It’s clear from this report that EPA orchestrated this matter in a biased fashion,” saidAmerican Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “Now it’s up to Congress to clean up this mess by including a corrective measure in the omnibus bill now taking shape on Capitol Hill.”

The rule, which was proposed in 2014 and enacted in August, redefines which bodies of water and farm activities are subject to EPA oversight. It has been cause for concern among farmers because it would give the EPA broad jurisdiction over dry land features and common farming practices. That authority historically has been relegated to individual states under the Clean Water Act.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ordered the EPA on Oct. 9 to stop enforcement of the rule nationwide.

“Now that it has become clear that the agency used illegal tactics to manufacture ill-informed support for the rule, Congress should act immediately to prohibit implementation of this rule, which is the product of an unlawful and misguided process. … EPA was focused only on promoting the rule rather than hearing good-faith concerns from a wide cross-section of Americans,” Stallman said. “The public deserves better when important matters of public policy are at stake.”

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