Farm Bureau: decision to potentially reverse navigable waters rule is a blow to agriculture

A leader with American Farm Bureau Federation says there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding EPA’s plans to reverse the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

Don Parrish, senior director of congressional and regulatory relations, says EPA’s news release says the agency plans to revise the rule, while EPA Administrator Michael Regan has said….”they are indicating that they’re going to do more than just revise and they’re going to repeal the Navigable Waters Protection Rule and ultimately replace it. It’s a little bit confusing and we won’t know for sure the process that EPA intends to take for a little while,” Parrish says.

He tells Brownfield the rationale behind the decision is concerning. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have determined that there are 333 projects that would have required permitting prior to 2020 rule but no longer do.

“There are only 333 that we believe they’ve cherry picked because the Army Corps of Engineers makes almost 60,000 jurisdictional determinations every year,” he says. “So, how big of an issue is this and what is the geographic distribution of these 333 projects and what is the data underlining it.” 

Parrish says the agencies hosted a call with ag groups on Thursday and it’s unclear if that data behind that finding will be shared.

“That’s already a red flag in the fact of are they going to be transparent, are we going to have a realistic dialogue about whether or not these jurisdictional determinations are actually problems,” he says.

He says AFBF would like a closer look at EPA’s data because the organization believes the Navigable Waters Protection Rule is protective of the environment, gives the right balance to federal and state authority, and provides necessary clarity to farmers and ranchers who are mindful of water quality. 

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