Committee members want EPA to stop proposed WOTUS rule

By Sara Wyant

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WASHINGTON, May 22, 2014 - Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves, R-MO., and other GOP committee members sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) & Army Corps of Engineers today, complaining that their “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) proposed rule hasn't been correctly shepherded through the federal regulatory process.

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Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the agencies are required to conduct outreach to assess the impacts of the proposed rule on small businesses. The rule, which attempts to define the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act, was published in the Federal Register on April 21, 2014 and comments are due July 21, 2014.

“We are concerned that the proposed rule could have a significant economic impact on small businesses yet the agencies have not assessed those consequences as required by the RFA,” they wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and the Department of Army's Jo-Ellen Darcy in a letter obtained by Agri-Pulse.

The letter noted that small businesses such as farmers and ranchers will be directly affected by the proposed rule because permits may be required for a wide variety of everyday activities such as removing debris and vegetation from a ditch, applying pesticides, or building a fence.

Yet, the agencies certified that the proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact.

“We believe the agencies should withdraw the proposed rule and conduct the required small business outreach and analysis before proceeding with the rulemaking,” members wrote. As an alternative, members requested that the public comment period be extended by 90 additional days “to ensure that small businesses have adequate time to review and provide input.”

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