This week, the Senate delivered a resounding message that the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule is flawed in both substance and process. In a series of key votes, lawmakers sent a strong message to the EPA that that they will not tolerate outlandish regulatory actions that disregard established law. Lawmakers put federal regulators on notice that the WOTUS rule is simply unacceptable.
But American Farm Bureau Federation regulatory specialist Don Parrish says the EPA is likely to push ahead with their proposed rule anyway, “All indication is that the Administrator and EPA intend to ram this proposal through, regardless of the important comments that were made on it; and try to do so as quickly as possible.”
The agency received over 1 million public comments on the proposed rule. While not all of the comments have been made public, Parrish says most were critical of the rule, “Those people who actually read the proposal, EPA’s own contractors, said 68 percent of them opposed the regulation. That’s unprecedented. That is pretty amazing because when people bothered to look at the details of the proposal, they overwhelmingly opposed it.”
Parrish said that a lot of people who support the rule have not read the rule. According to AFBF, comments made on Twitter such as “I like Clean Water” were counted by the Environmental Protection Agency as substantive comments supporting the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule. “They’re doing everything they can to expand their jurisdictional reach, and they’re doing it by skewing the way in which comments come in on this proposal,” he added.
AFBF President Bob Stallman said, “The Senate action amplifies the spirit our farmers and ranchers have conveyed over the past year of the need to ditch the egregious WOTUS rule.”
According to Agri Pulse, however, the vote on the measure, sponsored by John Barrasso, R-WY, was well short of the two-thirds margin that would be necessary to overcome a presidential veto. Five Democrats and Maine Independent Angus King supported the amendment, which spelled out various features that should be exempt from the anti-pollution law including isolated ponds, roadside ditches, irrigation ditches and stormwater systems. Most of the Democrats who voted for the Barrasso amendment, except Joe Manchin of West Virginia, represent major farm states: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Claire McKaskill of Missouri.