House committee approves bill to drop WOTUS rule

Proposed bill requests the EPA and Corps to start from scratch on WOTUS rule

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a bill that requests the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) proposal.

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) introduced Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, H.R. 1732, which required the Army Corps and the EPA to withdraw WOTUS within 30 days. The bill also requires the two agencies to develop a new proposed rule for consideration that accounts for all of comments received on initial proposal.

The Committee approved the bill Thursday with a vote of 36 to 22.

The final WOTUS draft was sent to White House for review on April 3.  EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Army Jo-Ellen Darcy posted highlights of the final draft.

READ More: WOTUS draft sent to White House

Agriculture organizations including the National Pork Producer Council have raised concerns over the proposal. 

According to analyses by agricultural organizations, including NPPC, and federal agencies, the rule would encompass millions of miles of streams and adjacent lands, subjecting any activity near or on them – including, for farmers, applying fertilizers and pesticides and (potentially) planting crops – to CWA permitting. The regulation also would expose farmers to citizen lawsuits, alleging, for example, that ditches on cropland should be regulated under the CWA.

“The rule was supposed to bring clarity to what are and what are not water bodies regulated by the federal government, but it fails to do that,” said NPPC past president Dr. Howard Hill, a pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa. “While pork producers appreciate the efforts of EPA and the Corps of Engineers to define their jurisdiction, the proposed rule will create many more problems than it theoretically will solve.”

Click here to read NPPC original comments.

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