Agriculture Leaders Discuss The Clean Water Act - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Agriculture Leaders Discuss The Clean Water Act

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Yesterday, it was contention over clean air. Today, it's all about water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule for the Clean Water Act.

North Dakota Agricultural Commissioner Doug Goehring denounced the rule, saying it could cause problems for farmers and ranchers. Ag Commissioner candidate Ryan Taylor agrees, but some conservationists disagree.
  
It's a rule one conservationist says is long overdue.

"It's a clarification of which wetlands and streams will be protected and which won't. And it provides a little bit of certainty I would think for wildlife advocates and farmers and ranchers. And of course, clean water is important for millions of people for just clean drinking water," says Conservation Organizer Wayde Schafer.

But some agricultural leaders are worried about how it could affect farmers and ranchers. Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring says he's appalled by the EPA's bold overreach and attempt to exert their authority over all the waters of the state.

"When Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, they gave the EPA oversight on navigable waters, not every body of water, not every pothole that exists in the United States or in North Dakota," says Goehring.

At just under 400 pages, it would give the EPA regulatory control over virtually all surface water, including wetlands, dry ditches, snow melt and seasonal streams and ponds.

"Farmers would now be required to obtain an NPDS permit for almost every acre that they would apply crop protection products to manage weeds, disease, pests, as well as applying fertilizer or any type of fertility, such as manure," says Goehring. 

In addition, farmers would have mandatory compliance with National Conservation Practice standards, which were originally introduced as voluntary practices. But Schafer says it's important for all of the state's residents to have clean drinking water.

"Wetlands are really important for breeding populations of waterfowl and really all forms of wildlife. And without water, the population is just going to decline. And so, if the water is polluted, it's just harmful to all the wildlife in North Dakota," says Schafer.

Goehring says the proposed rule creates a lot of unpredictable and confusing scenarios for farmers and ranchers. He's asking the EPA to extend the comment period on the rule by at least 90 days.

Goehring is encouraging producers and farm groups to examine the interpretive bill and submit comments. For more information on how to submit comments visit www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880-0001.
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