AGRI-PULSE: 2019 Regulatory Preview: WOTUS tops agenda for ag groups

“People with any stake in the 2015 rule can go right to the proposal and know what’s in it,” said Don Parrish, senior regulatory affairs director at the American Farm Bureau Federation. Parrish pointed to the fact that EPA already received about 6,000 comments on a “pre-proposal.”

Parrish said AFBF is generally pleased with the proposal, but would like to see more clarity on how EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers intend to distinguish between intermittent and ephemeral streams. The former, which run seasonally, would be regulated if they contribute flow to traditional navigable waters, while the latter, which run in response to rain or snowfall, would not.

One important issue to be addressed in the coming debate is whether states are up to the task of assuming whatever jurisdiction over waters left unclaimed by EPA and the Corps.

For Parrish, the answer is obvious: The states can do the job. “People are crying foul, but the way our system works is under a federalist system. I’m of the opinion that people protect resources close to home.” At the state level, he said there are bills and regulations covering waters “every which way from Sunday.”

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