From the Colorado Corn Growers Association via the High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal:
Leaders with the Colorado Corn Growers Association recently submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, voicing concerns about the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed Waters of the U.S. rule. CCGA leaders stressed they believe the intentions of federal officials in their WOTUS rule-making efforts (clarifying protection under the Clean Water Act) are wildly different from what the outcome will actually be (an expanded jurisdiction of the EPA).
Below is a portion of the letter submitted to the EPA by CCGA President Dave Eckhardt:
“As president of the Colorado Corn Growers Association, I agree whole-heartedly with many of the points made by our National Corn Growers Association leaders in the letters they’ve sent you regarding this rule. Like them, I believe this unprecedented increase in jurisdiction must not be finalized without first undergoing significant revision. I also agree there is tremendous uncertainty we face because of the way the rule defines what is ‘tributary,’ and what is ‘adjacent.’ And it concerns me as well that a vast number of ditches are or could be subject to federal jurisdiction, and if these or other waters like them on my farm are made jurisdictional, I fear I would face serious risk of lawsuits.
“But my concerns and those of so many others here in Colorado go beyond that, largely because of our unique water situation, and our local rules and restrictions that are so different here than in other places across the U.S. That is the point I want to stress above all others; I find it impossible that the EPA can create a one-size-fits-all set of rules for everyone, when, just to provide one very basic example, places like the Midwest need systems and rules in place to divert excess water off their fields, while we in Colorado and across the West require infrastructure and regulations to divert limited water on to our fields. There are just so few consistencies region-to-region when it comes to water functions, making it incredibly difficult to create something that works for everybody.”
Eckhardt—who, in May, hosted a gathering of EPA officials at his farm in LaSalle, Colorado, to discuss this proposed rule—also noted in his letter it isn’t just farmers in the state who are concerned. Municipalities and many other non-ag water officials across Colorado have also voiced their dire concerns about how this would impact our complex water system and unique set of local regulations.
Leaders with the National Corn Growers Association—as well as ag organizations and other groups across the U.S.—have also weighed in.
“We appreciate efforts to bring greater clarity and certainty to the understanding of what are waters of the U.S. Unfortunately, this proposed rule provides neither,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “This rule will adversely impact more than 300,000 corn farmers. As it is currently written, the financial and practical consequences for farmers are unacceptable.”
Bowling emphasized that NCGA has and will continue to work with the EPA to create a fair and workable rule. In October, Bowling, too, hosted nearly a dozen EPA staffers at his southern Maryland farm, part of a series of meetings between NCGA and the Agency on WOTUS.
“Farmers are proud of their conservation efforts and are committed to protecting and restoring water quality,” said Bowling. “We have and will continue to work with federal and state agencies and other organizations that care about water quality.”
More Environmental Protection Agency coverage here.