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EPA, courts announce decision on water policy
Two events in late September may impact farmers as state and federal governments attempt to improve water quality, according to a Sept. 26 American Soybean Association press release.
In the first, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule aimed at clarifying federal regulatory jurisdiction over isolated streams, wetlands, and other water resources and withdrew a proposed guidance on the issue. The guidance document was criticized by farm groups when it was released in 2011, out of concern that it would allow EPA to claim jurisdiction over additional bodies of water. EPA now asserts that since the guidance document was not legally binding, this rule-making will bring certainty to stakeholders. The proposed rule has not yet been released.
Additionally, a judge from the federal court for the Eastern District of Louisiana ruled that EPA must respond to a five-year-old request from environmental groups to consider tougher pollution controls on chemicals such as nitrogen and phosphorus in the Mississippi River basin. The judge agreed with environmentalists that EPA had violated the Administrative Procedures Act by failing to explain why it wasn’t necessary to issue new regulations.
In this case, agricultural stakeholders supported EPA’s position that it should leave water quality regulations to individual states. If EPA ends up regulating, it could establish numeric standards for phosphorus and nitrogen runoff in each state, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load standard. EPA has 180 days to issue a decision.
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