Corn growers ask Congress to terminate EPA's new water rule

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) on Friday called on Congress to pass legislation that nullifies the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule after the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced a bill easing requirements for pesticide-permit applications.

“This bill will cut some regulatory red tape out of the pesticide-permitting process,” Chip Bowling, NCGA's president and a farmer from Maryland, said. “Anything we can do to cut Washington red tape will help farmers. This bill also underscores the problems with the EPA’s new Waters of the U.S. rule. The rule significantly expands the reach and power of the federal government over our farming operations. Every farm and ranch in America now has a WOTUS – and that means more paperwork, more permits and more hassle, without actual water-quality benefits. The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers must work with farmers to rewrite WOTUS.”

Water-quality concerns related to pesticide applications had been addressed in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, rather than a Clean Water Act permitting program. In 2009, a federal court ruled that pesticide users were required to apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit under the Clean Water Act if the chemical is sprayed over, near or into a body of water.

Under the federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, all pesticides get reviewed and regulated for use with strict instructions on the EPA-approved product label. A thorough review and accounting of impacts to water quality and aquatic species exist in every EPA review. Critics said requiring water permits for pesticide applications was  redundant, providing no additional environmental benefit.

The Sensible Environmental Protection Act of 2015 (S. 1500), sponsored by Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), would clarify that federal law does not require this particular permit for already-regulated pesticide applications.

“NCGA urges Congress to move forward with this bill and to pass legislation to withdraw the WOTUS rule and require EPA and the Corps to work with agriculture and other stakeholders to rewrite the rule,” Bowling said.

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National Corn Growers Association

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