Recent statements by the Environmental Protection Agency regarding the latest Clean Water Act rulemaking violate basic open-government requirements, a group of 63 business and agriculture organizations told the EPA and Congress. The resulting failure to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act is so egregious, the Waters Access Coalition said, the agency should withdraw the rule altogether.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, together with the other 62 members of the coalition, deplored a series of misrepresentations made by the EPA following release of the proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule, which is the agency’s own interpretation of the 1970s-era Clean Water Act.
Among other things, the EPA and other agencies:
- Issued a series of agency blog posts that provide new interpretations of the proposed rule’s language;
- Revealed new reports that detail national challenges with defining the term “ordinary high water mark,” which is the most critical term for defining “tributary” under the proposed rule;
- Distributed comments from the Science Advisory Board that exposed serious problems with the scientific justifications for the rule put forth by the EPA;
- Released U.S. Geological Survey maps that show a massive expansion of territory covered under the EPA proposals, despite the EPA’s earlier and vehement statements to the contrary, and
- Failed to conduct meaningful consultations with farmers, businesses and others most severely affected by the proposed rule, ignoring both timeliness and transparency in government.
“These are serious transgressions of principles of open government,” said Don Parrish, AFBF senior director of regulatory relations. “The EPA should withdraw this rule and have meaningful discussions with representatives of the farm families that stand to suffer most under this proposal.”
A copy of the letter can be found here: http://fb.org/tmp/uploads/wacletter092914.pdf.