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Farm Bureau Endorses Bill to Sink Controversial WOTUS Rule

The American Farm Bureau Federation today asked Congress to pass legislation ordering the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the controversial “Waters of the United States” proposal.In a letter copied to all members of Congress, AFBF President Bob Stallman wrote that the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015 represents an opportunity for Congress to take “the first important step toward resolving this issue fairly.” The bill was approved this week by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, chaired by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.)

If the legislation does not pass and EPA moves forward with a final rule, the likeliest result would be landowners “being forced to engage in expensive litigation to protect their rights.”

Farm Bureau also called into question a “Dear Colleague” letter circulating on Capitol Hill that mentions the American Farm Bureau by name. That letter states that delaying the rule would be “bad for farmers.”

“Because our name has been used, we feel obliged to make our position clear,” Stallman wrote. “Our members overwhelmingly oppose this rule. It is a bad rule for farmers. There is no question about that. Anyone who alleges the opposite either misunderstands the rule or misunderstands farming.”

AFBF also questioned the “Dear Colleague” letter’s assertion that delaying the WOTUS rule would leave “many of our nation’s waters unprotected.”

“As a matter of record, EPA has made repeated statements that the proposed rule does not expand its jurisdiction, while its proponents take the view … that without the rule, waters would be left unprotected. Proponents (of the WOTUS rule) cannot have it both ways.”

Farm Bureau believes without question that the WOTUS rule expands EPA’s authority beyond congressional intent and the limits imposed by two Supreme Court opinions. Among other provisions, AFBF said the proposed rule improperly extends federal regulation to isolated waters and, in cases, regulates land use under the guise of the WOTUS rule. The organization commended Chairman Shuster and the committee for their effort to draft and approve the bill for wider congressional consideration.

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