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Local farmers unhappy about new EPA proposed rule

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U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) is speaking out about against a new proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency. He says the proposed rule is too broad, but the EPA is saying it will protect more of the nation’s water resources under the Clean Water Act.

The EPA publicized the proposed rule last week. It would extend protection of the Act by clarifying the definition of the streams and wetlands covered. The agency says 60 percent of stream miles in the U.S. only flow seasonally, or after rain. Under the new rule more of those would be protected – read the EPA’s release about the rule here.

But some farmers are concerned about areas where rainwater gathers on their farmland, and that the EPA could regulate what they do on their land because of it.

“Sometimes there’s water that comes in after a heavy rain, which is very temporary, and if they were to come along and see it, they could put a lot of regulations on it,” says Cumberland County crop farmer Donald Heishman.

On Friday, Senator Toomey held a press conference with local farmers in West Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County. He announced he’s sent a letter, signed with 14 other lawmakers, to the EPA questioning the rule.

He says the rule is a “power grab” by the EPA, trying to regulate everything from the “largest rivers” to “small irrigation ditches.”

Here is the EPA’s response:

“EPA has received the letter and will be reviewing it. The proposed rule clarifies protection for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. It does not expand the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction to protect any new types of waters and is consistent with the Supreme Court’s more narrow reading of Clean Water Act jurisdiction.”

The EPA says the 90-day public comment period will open sometime next week. If you want to voice your opinion, you can contact them:

Via Email: Contact with the Subject line EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880

Vial Mail: Send original and 3 copies of your comment to
Water Docket, EPA
Mail Code 2822T
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460


1 Comment

  • Nathan R Sooy

    Restoring this protection would take us closer to the way that the Clean Water Act operated under Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. The Act was seriously broken and weakened under President George W Bush. Thanks to the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers for finally announcing critical steps to fix the mess the George W Bush Administration made of the Clean Water Act.

    I urge the EPA to finalize a strong rule to clarify that all streams, wetlands and other water resources are protected under the Clean Water Act. Every body of water in the USA is important and needs protection.

    Nathan Sooy
    Clean Water Action

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