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Clarify or Withdraw WOTUS Regulation, NMPF Tells EPA

December 4, 2014

NMPF has proposed a series of changes to the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial Waters of the U.S. regulation, asking either that its recommendations be included in the current draft, or that EPA withdraw and rewrite the rule.

In lengthy comments, NMPF stressed that, above all, agriculture needs certainty on which waterways fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, and which do not. It asked EPA to clarify numerous terms in the regulation, including “other waters,” “upland ditches,” ‘‘floodplain,’’ ‘‘tributary,’’ and ‘‘significant nexus.”

In addition, NMPF urged that any final regulation exclude from federal jurisdiction intermittent streams and wetlands adjacent to excluded streams. NMPF also asked EPA to publish maps clearly indicating the features that make a waterway covered under the CWA.

“Clean water is essential to milk production and the dairy industry is very willing to work with EPA to protect U.S. waters,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “But EPA’s draft would only lead to more confusion and uncertainty around which waterways fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.”

NMPF submitted 23 pages of comments on the regulation, along with additional comments on EPA guidance for when farmers must seek CWA permits for a long list of normal farming activities near wetlands.

Issued in March, the draft WOTUS regulation expanded the waterways covered under the Clean Water Act to nearly all those connected to U.S. navigable waters. EPA received more than half a million comments on the rule.