House passes bill against EPA’s proposed water rule change

Pressure is continuing to mount against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to expand its jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA). This week the House passed a bill 262-152 that calls for prohibiting the EPA from implementing its plan. Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs backed the bill, saying in a blog that the EPA’s proposed rule is a “massive power grab by the federal government.”

American Farm Bureau strongly opposes the proposed rule change, and its “Ditch the Rule” campaign has been successful in getting members at the national, state and local levels to take action. If approved, the new rule would expand the definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under CWA and give EPA jurisdiction over almost all areas with a hydrologic connection to downstream navigable waters, including ditches.

AFBF says more than 1 million acres of land would be affected, much higher than the 1,300 acres estimated by the EPA. AFBF has said EPA is wrongly trying to use the Clean Water Act to regulate some land that is dry most of the year and miles from the nearest navigable water.

Agriculture’s WOTUS Mapping Initiative is now available online. The maps are based on U.S. Geological Survey data and identify water flow characteristics nationwide and within states. The maps are from the National Hydrography Dataset at high resolution and show permanent streams, something less than all intermittent streams (i.e., streams that flow seasonally) and as little as 30 percent of ephemeral streams (i.e., streams that flow only in response to rainfall or snowmelt).

Get more information about WOTUS.