Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Spending bill blocks EPA proposed water rules on certain farm ponds and irrigation ditches

On Tuesday night House Republicans filed a $1.1 trillion year-end spending bill that blocks the Environmental Protection Agency from applying proposed water rules to certain farm ponds and irrigation ditches—a move that Grand Old Party aides said would benefit farmers, Ed O'Keefe reports for The Washington Post. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the House is pushing for a floor vote as early as Thursday.

But both sides were forced to concede certain aspects of the Clean Water Act, reports David Rogers for Politico. "Democrats blocked some of the biggest ticket items impacting greenhouse gases. But even as the bill was filed, a legal dispute remained over how much the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers will be limited in a major rule-making that seeks to define what navigable waters come under federal control."

As part of the bill "environmental regulations on some waterways were nullified for the Army Corps of Engineers, but the Environmental Protection Agency would not be limited in its ability to regulate new bodies of water under the Clean Water Act," Ashley Parker and Jonathan Weisman report for The New York Times.

Farm groups have said "the rule would essentially require farmers to begin meeting USDA standards for a range of conservation measures, including grass waterways and forage management," reports Agri-Pulse, a Washington newsletter.

"The interpretive rule was issued in conjunction with a proposed rule defining what areas are regulated as 'waters of the United States,' or WOTUS," reports Agri-Pulse. "The two measures set off a firestorm among farm groups alarmed at the impact they would have on land use. Killing the interpretive rule is the 'first step in killing the massive regulatory overreach' of the WOTUS rule, said Don Parrish of the American Farm Bureau Federation." Agri-Pulse is subscription only, but a free trial is available by clicking here.

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