WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2014 – The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) says EPA’s proposed “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule fails to provide the certainty that dairy farmers need and should be changed substantially or withdrawn and rewritten.

In lengthy comments filed with EPA, NMPF asked that numerous terms used in the proposal be clarified including “other waters,” “upland ditches,” ‘‘floodplain,’’ ‘‘tributary,’’ and ‘‘significant nexus.” Additionally, the group urged that any final rule exclude from federal jurisdiction intermittent streams and wetlands adjacent to excluded streams. NMPF also asked EPA to publish maps clearly indicating the features that make a waterway covered under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

“Clean water is essential to milk production and the dairy industry is very willing to work with EPA to protect U.S. waters,” NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said in a news release. “But EPA’s draft would only lead to more confusion and uncertainty around which waterways fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. In addition, it would intrude on state responsibilities and do nothing to actually stop pollution.”

NMPF’s comments were among almost a half-million EPA received on the rule, which the agency proposed in March. The comment period on the plan closed last Friday.

The organization submitted 23 pages of comments on the EPA regulation, along with additional comment on the agency’s guidance for when farmers must seek CWA permits for a long list of normal farming activities near wetlands.

NMPF first urged the EPA to rethink the regulation last spring, citing ambiguities and uncertainties. The group said a subsequent analysis demonstrated that the proposal does not meet the requirements of various Supreme Court rulings that were the catalyst for the development of the regulation. 

“As a result,” Mulhern said, “the proposed regulation does not provide certainty for the dairy industry, and it needs to be reworked, either through this comment process, or with a new proposal from the agency.”

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