Congress, Farm Bureau demand answers from EPA

WASHINGTON—Army Corps of Engineers memoranda reveal dysfunction, secrecy and misconduct at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a Congressional committee and the American Farm Bureau Federation are calling on the EPA to abandon its controversial “Waters of the United States” rule.

Those demands came after the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform recently released more than 50 pages of documents in which the Army Corps of Engineers repeatedly rebuked EPA officials for their abuse of the rulemaking process in producing the controversial “Waters” rule.

“The entire economic analysis used to support the rule had no basis in either science or economics,” Army Corps officials wrote.

The rule, which was proposed in 2014, stands to redefine which bodies of water and farm activities are subject to EPA oversight. It has been cause for concern among the nation’s farmers because it would give the EPA broad jurisdiction historically relegated to individual states under the Clean Water Act over dry land features and common farming practices.

AFBF President Bob Stallman said it is clear from the memos “that there were dire concerns internally that EPA was getting it wrong. The flawed economic study is just the tip of the iceberg, and it was known internally that trouble was ahead.”

The Corps documents also validate AFBF’s concerns that the rule makes it impossible for anyone—including the Corps—to know which land features are regulated and which are not. The Corps even raised concerns that it would be difficult to determine whether “a low depressional area on a farm field that ponds water after a rainstorm for 10 days” would be a regulated “water” or an excluded “puddle.” EPA insisted throughout the rulemaking process that “puddles” would not be regulated.

“The Corps documents confirm what we have been saying all along,” Stallman said. “Even the Army Corps of Engineers concedes this rule is unworkable.”

Farm Bureau is calling on the EPA to immediately withdraw its rule and address the concerns of farmers, ranchers and other business owners nationwide.

Media: Contact Will Rodger, 202-406-3642, or Kari Barbic, 202-406-3672, AFBF communications; or Wilmer Stoneman, VFBF associate director of governmental relations, at 804-290-1024.

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