Under the proposed rules, farmers would have to pay fees for environmental assessments "just to till the soil near gullies, ditches or dry streambeds where water only flows when it rains," Nixon writes. "A permit is required for any activity, like farming or construction, that creates a discharge into a body of water covered under the Clean Water Act or affects the health of it, like filling in a wetland or blocking a stream." EPA has not said when the rules will be announced.
Advocates of the regulations argue that people are overreacting, and that the EPA's jurisdiction over streams will only increase by 3 percent, Nixon writes. Jan Goldman-Carter, a lawyer with the National Wildlife Federation, told Nixon, “The draft guidance is clear that irrigation ditches, drainage ponds and even groundwater are not considered waters of the U.S. Nor are gullies, rills, swales and other erosional features. This has been explained over and over again.” She said "Industry claims that ditches or groundwater might be covered under the new regulations are 'just wrong.'”
Critics say "the new rules failed to comply with regulatory requirements and relied on a flawed economic analysis concerning its effect on industry," Nixon writes. They also "said the scientific report the agency and the Army Corps of Engineers relied on to justify the new rules had not been reviewed by other scientists." (Read more)