In April the Environmental Protection Agency released a proposed rule it said would clarify its jurisdiction over waters of the United States as they related to the Clean Water Act.
This week, EPA extended the comment period on its proposed rule from late July out to early October. The extension came one day ahead of a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Meeting on the rule, in which American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman argued that the rule hinders normal farming operations, in spite of EPA's insistence to the contrary.
Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill says the bill reaches so far that any emphasis EPA places on farmer exemptions rings hollow.
"There's lots of definitions," says Hill. "There's a lot of discussion about their authority. It relates to tributaries, even waters that move, or are a conduit of water that is currently dry; if it's intermittent or if it's been interrupted by man, or has a man-made creation in its path, it is still a water of the U.S. So nearly everything in the state that sheds water would become the jurisdiction of EPA. When EPA says that farmers are exempt, they're being very disingenuous. It's rather appalling for them to make that statement after reading this 370-page rule."