Just days before becoming the majority party in the U.S. Senate, 33 Republican Senators went on record criticizing the “Waters of the United States” rule. The letters—one sent by Senator James Barasso (R-WY) and 24 senators and the other sent by GOP members of the Senate Agriculture Committee—offer significant criticisms and questions about the proposed rule.
The Barasso letter –sent to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Army Secretary John McHugh– detailed five areas where the lawmakers assert that federal agencies misrepresented the rule and its opposition. In one example, the lawmakers argue that EPA insinuated that opposition to the rule equates to opposing clean water. The letter also says that comments made by EPA's Office of Water on Twitter "removes any pretense that the agency will act as a fair and neutral arbiter during the rulemaking."
Meanwhile, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) led GOP members of the Senate Agriculture Committee in sending a separate letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy, Army Secretary McHugh, and Agriculture
Secretary Tom Vilsack. That letter, which questioned effects on exemptions and other items, provided a stiff rebuke of the rule. The letter argues the rule provides USDA powers that it was never granted, stating:
“Undoubtedly, there is a disconnect between regulatory reality and the Administration’s utopian view of the proposed ‘waters of the United States’ rule. We believe this reflects the EPA’s and the Corps’ refusal to listen to the thousands of Americans who have asked that the proposed rule be immediately withdrawn.”
For its part, NAFSMA’s board recently approved the association’s final comments for submission and NAFSMA recently focused on the proposed rulemaking on its Twitter account. NAFSMA is strongly encouraging its members to submit their own comments on the proposed rule before the 14 November deadline. You can submit your comments electronically on regulations.gov.