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Water rule comment period extended

EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have extended the public comment period for a proposed rule that defines the Waters of the U.S. that fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

The extension was in response to a number of requests received by the agencies involved with the rule, according to EPA. Originally slated to end July 21, the extension gives the public an additional 91 days – or until Oct. 20 – to submit comments.

According to EPA, the rule is designed to clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands.

The EPA proposal includes an interpretive rule that the agency says ensures that 56 specific conservation practices that protect or improve water quality and are conducted in conformance with the standards of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service will not be subject to Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting requirements for discharges of dredged or fill material. The comment period on the interpretive rule has been extended by 30 days, until July 7.

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman called the EPA action a "victory for farming families," and promised to use the extra time for comment wisely. "We will ditch this rule," he said in a release, echoing the title of the campaign, Ditch the Rule, the organization has mounted against the government proposal.

"EPA has misled the regulated community about the rule's impacts on land use," Stallman said. "If more people knew how regulators want to require permits for common activities on dry land, or penalize landowners for not getting them, they would be outraged."

Originally posted Tuesday, Jun. 10, 2014

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