WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2014 – The Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy (Advocacy) says EPA should withdraw its proposed “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule and resubmit the plan after conducting a review panel on how it would affect small businesses.

In comments filed with the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers,  Advocacy said that contrary to the agencies’ position, it believes the rule “will have direct effects” on a significant number of small businesses.

“Advocacy and small businesses are extremely concerned about the rule as proposed,” the unit said in the conclusion portion of its comments. “The rule will have a direct and potentially costly impact on small businesses. The limited economic analysis which the agencies submitted with the rule provides ample evidence of a potentially significant economic impact. Advocacy advises the agencies to withdraw the rule and conduct a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel prior to promulgating any further rule on this issue.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation, which has called the rule an example of massive government overreach, welcomed the critical comments from one part of the Obama administration on another.

“The SBA’s frankness may surprise some, but it does not surprise us,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, who contends the EPA plan would give the agency jurisdiction over even small ditches on a farm or ranch. “The EPA has been heedless and cavalier in its disregard for the American farmers who would be most affected by this unworkable proposal.

“We agree that the EPA had an obligation to conduct a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel before releasing the rule for comment, and we agree that the rule should be withdrawn as a result,” Stallman said, before repeating the mantra AFBF has been using to drum up opposition to WOTUS. “It’s time to ditch this rule.”

In its comments, Advocacy also contends that the EPA used the wrong baseline to certify that fewer waters would be subject to the Clean Water Act under the rule than under existing regulations. Advocacy6 notes that the “existing regulations” EPA referred to for certifying the rule were those in effect in 1986. In its economic analysis accompanying the rule, the EPA and the Army Corps assess the regulation using current practice and determine that the rule increases CWA jurisdiction by about 3 percent.

“The agencies’ certification and analysis contradict each other,” Advocacy noted.


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