The American Soybean Association requested that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdraw its controversial proposed definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act because of ASA’s serious concerns regarding the scope and potential impact of the rule.
“We believe that this rule creates new legal jeopardy for individual farmers, causes uncertainty where none existed and produces substantial problems for agriculture that will not achieve benefits to our nation’s waters,” wrote ASA President and Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser in the comments.
In its comments, ASA pointed out the association’s key problems with the ruling, based on four major inconsistencies, including the incorrect application of the “nexus” test, significant confusion around the issue of tile drainage, questions regarding jurisdiction over prior converted cropland and discrepancies concerning the amount by which the EPA’s jurisdiction would actually expand under the new definition.
Additionally, ASA recognized the need for clarity on jurisdictional issues within the Clean Water Act, and acknowledged the call for such clarification by EPA handed down from the Supreme Court, but reiterated that the association believed that neither goal is accomplished by the WOTUS definition. Moving forward, ASA encouraged EPA to engage with agriculture early to correct and avoid the types of issues raised in the rule’s current state.
“We ask that the EPA consult broadly with agricultural stakeholders before any new rule is proposed, and that any new proposed rule address the problems and inconsistencies that have come to light in our and other agricultural groups’ review of this proposed rule,” added Gaesser.