PFB Thankful for Comment Period Extension on Waters of the U.S. Proposal

6/18/2014

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) is pleased the deadline has been extended to comment on a recently proposed rule that attempts to expand federal regulation over virtually every acre of farmland across the country under what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers call "waters of the United States." Farm families across Pennsylvania and the U.S. had sought more time to review and comment on the rule after it was introduced by the agencies in April.  Farmers, business owners, homeowners and anyone potentially impacted by this regulation now have until October 20 to submit comments.
 
"Despite statements to the contrary, the changes suggested by EPA and the Corps of Engineers would expand their authority by allowing the agencies to regulate land activities around small creeks, streams and even ditches that only hold water during heavy rain events," said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer. "Hopefully, the agencies will take the opportunity this extension creates to review the details of their own proposal and learn just how far their plans go beyond the original intent of the Clean Water Act [CWA]."
 
The farm bureau disputes the EPA's claims that agricultural exemptions currently provided under the CWA should relieve farmers of any need to worry about the proposed rule. Unfortunately, those exemptions are mostly limited to plowing and earthmoving activities and do not apply to the use of fertilizers or similar farm inputs on farm fields. Because of this important detail, the PFB notes that many practices in farm fields could require government approval through a complex process of federal permitting if the proposed rule becomes final.
 
Moreover, an analysis of the EPA proposal by University of California-Berkley economist Dr. David Sunding details how the EPA failed to provide a realistic explanation of the scope, costs and benefits of the rule.
 
"We are calling on EPA and the Corps to voluntarily withdraw the proposed rule, because their actions clearly exceed the authority they have under the CWA and also ignore two U.S. Supreme Court decisions limiting their authority to navigable waters," added Shaffer. 
 
The PFB produced a video to further explain the issue; you can view it via the PFB website at www.pfb.com or by using the following link: http://ytchannelembed.com/videos/watch/9t2ldJc0L2s#.U5dbbijb6AY. More information is available at http://ditchtherule.fb.org.