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Lee, Farm Bureau Criticize New EPA Water Rule


Sen. Mike Lee and the American Farm Bureau have voiced their opposition to changes by the Environmental Protection Agency to the Clean Water Act. The new rule clarifies the scope of water protected under the CWA.

According to the EPA, the new field of jurisdiction is narrower than the one already on the books. They claimed that the change will make it easier for those in agriculture to comply with the law. Don Parrish of the American Farm Bureau said that the EPA’s new definition of water is too broad to afford farmers and ranchers any sense of ease.

“You have an extremely broad and uncertain definition of water. Therefore, in order to meet an exclusion, the [Environmental Protection] Agency has to tell you you’re not a water,” Parrish said. “I don’t think farmers and ranchers are going to be able to make that determination on their own. This really, technically and effectively, gives the agency the discretion to regulate when and where on the landscape they want to.”

In a press release, Lee said the EPA’s new rule will harm Utahns in multiple industries.

The EPA claimed that farmers, state governments, and energy companies requested the clarification of the law. Parrish said that it is up to those affected by the new rule to persuade Congress.

“The burden is on not only agriculture but the broad regulated community to help those members understand that this rule actually is worse,” Parrish said. “It is going to create more uncertainty, it is going to create more costs for the regulated community. I think we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

If passed, the change will take effect 60 days after being entered into the Federal Register.