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NMPF to EPA on Waters Regulation: ‘Clear as Muddy Water’

June 10, 2014

Citing incomplete science and unclear terminology, NMPF has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to delay a decision on its controversial draft regulation expanding the waterways subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act.  

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, NMPF’s President and CEO Jim Mulhern said dairy farmers are committed to protecting U.S. waters both voluntarily and under the Clean Water Act. However, Mulhern said, “it is imperative that the EPA go about this effort in the right way, in light of the potential impact of this measure on dairy farmers. It would be a disservice to farmers to rush this proposal through the review process without sufficient scientific support or time to better understand the complexities of the issue.”

The regulation expands the waterways covered under the 1972 Clean Water Act to nearly all those connected to U.S. navigable waters. NMPF noted that EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have not completed the report providing the scientific underpinning for the regulation and that many of its key concepts – including ‘‘riparian area,’’ ‘‘floodplain,’’ ‘‘tributary,’’ and ‘‘significant nexus’ – are either undefined or subject to interpretation by government regulators. “These terms are as clear as muddy water, and, therefore, will create confusion for dairy producers,” NMPF said.  
It added: “Given the scope and complexities of the proposed rule and its supporting documents, NMPF requests an extension of the comment period, either to 90 days beyond the current deadline, or 90 days beyond EPA’s release of the final connectivity report” providing scientific basis for the regulation.”