Michigan congressman: New EPA water rule ‘onerous’ burden on farmers

After the EPA released the final version of its new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI) joined House colleagues in voicing concerns with the regulation.

The WOTUS Rule drastically broadens the definition of a body of water that can fall under the jurisdiction of the EPA through the Clean Water Act. Under WOTUS, the EPA can regulate not only rivers, streams and lakes, but also drainage ditches and even retention ponds on farms. The final rule redefines the term “navigable waterway” – which has traditionally guided federal policy – to cover almost any flowing or standing water located on public or private land.

“When I hear from farmers in my district, this EPA rule is one of their top concerns,” Moolenaar said. “They are worried about the federal government coming to regulate ditches and mud puddles on their land. Republicans and Democrats alike have voted against this EPA proposal, and we will continue to fight for the thousands of men and women working in Michigan agriculture to ensure they are able to farm their land and run their businesses without being saddled by onerous rules and regulations.”

Earlier this month, the House passed the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, which would prevent the administration from implementing WOTUS and require the EPA to rewrite the rule, considering input from the public and other stakeholders. The Senate has not yet acted on this legislation.

“Instead of giving more power to bureaucrats, the EPA should focus on protecting real navigable waters, especially the Great Lakes,” Moolenaar said. “In February, the administration proposed cutting funding for protecting the Great Lakes, leaving them vulnerable to invasive species. The EPA’s misplaced priorities jeopardize Michigan’s tourism and fishing jobs. The EPA should focus on protecting the Great Lakes and not burden Michigan farms and businesses with more costly regulations.”