Mark O’Neill, Media and Strategic Communications Director
For Immediate Release:January 23, 2020
(Camp Hill) – Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) commended the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for creating a new rule that more clearly establishes what bodies of water and land masses are subject to federal regulation. The “Navigable Waters Protection Rule” revises the flawed 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule that expanded the regulatory authority of EPA and the Corps far beyond what is allowed under the Clean Water Act.
“The new water rule establishes that most ditches and typically dry land, including land that is sometimes wet (such as ephemeral features), would not be subject to federal jurisdiction, while permanent waterways, such as lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands, would be subject to federal oversight,” said PFB President Rick Ebert. “The rule should help remove confusion over whether regulatory jurisdiction falls under the responsibility of the state or federal government.”
Farm Bureau notes that Pennsylvania already has comprehensive state regulations in place to protect water quality. Meanwhile, the new rule maintains strong protections for drinking water and makes no changes to standards or enforcement of the national Safe Drinking Water Act, which is the primary federal law that protects all public drinking water supplies in the United States.
“Clean water and healthy soil are top priorities among farmers across the state and the nation. We undertake proactive and voluntary measures to conserve resources and implement multiple practices on the farm to keep nutrients from entering waterways,” added Ebert.
PFB is hopeful that the Navigable Waters Protection Rule will be easier for farmers and other stakeholders to understand.
“Many farmers expressed concerns over the confusing and vague language included in the previous WOTUS rule, which would have provided government agencies with unprecedented power to regulate farms. Farmers specifically pointed to a study which concluded that WOTUS would have subjected nearly all of Pennsylvania’s land mass to federal regulation,” concluded Ebert.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization,
representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.