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Eric Tabor
Chief Deputy Attorney General
515-281-5191, Eric.Tabor@iowa.gov

Miller, State Attorneys General Object to EPA Narrowing Clean Water Act Permitting Exemptions for Farmers

Bipartisan group of 15 states object to EPA rule narrowing
“normal farming activities” exemptions in Clean Water Act

(DES MOINES, Iowa)  Attorney General Tom Miller has joined Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and 13 state attorneys general in a letter objecting to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that would effectively narrow the exemption the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) provides for “normal farming activities” from permitting requirements for discharge of dredged or fill material.

The attorneys general object to the EPA interpretive rule because the group contends it improperly purports to narrow the scope of the phrase “normal farming . . . activities such as . . . upland soil and water conservation practices” found in the CWA Act.  The group also objects that the EPA did not give proper public notice or seek public comment.

Under the EPA’s interpretive rule, only federal Natural Resources Conservation (NRCS) agricultural practices implemented in accordance with NRCS technical standards would qualify for the “upland soil and water conservation practices” exempted from permit requirements for discharge of dredged or fill material. 

In addition to Nebraska and Iowa, the bipartisan group joining in the objection includes Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming.