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WOTUS comment period extended; EPA to hold listening sessions


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have extended the period for public comment regarding the agencies' Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which was finalized in 2015 but has yet to be implemented pending court orders. Originally set for an Aug. 28 comment deadline, the agencies gave the public until Sept. 27 to submit comments.

Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) has been at the forefront of efforts to have the rule repealed. To submit a comment visit http://www.gfb.org/legislative/action.html.

The rule greatly expanded the definition of navigable waters under the Clean Water Act. GFB has maintained since the rule was first proposed that it constituted a gross regulatory overreach, well past what Congress intended under the Clean Water Act and counter to multiple previous Supreme Court decisions.

The EPA has scheduled a series of 10 web-based listening sessions as well as a meeting with "small entities" in Washington. Each of the web-based sessions are intended for a specific audience. The schedule: Sept. 19 - small entities, defined as small businesses, small organizations and small governmental jurisdictions; Sept. 26 - environment and public advocacy groups; Oct. 3 - conservation stakeholders, like hunters and fishermen; Oct. 10 - construction and transportation groups; Oct. 17 - agricultural groups; Oct. 24 - industry groups; Oct. 31 - mining groups; Nov. 7 - scientific organizations and academia; Nov. 14 - storm water, wastewater management and drinking water agencies and Nov. 21 - general public.

These sessions follow the Feb. 28 presidential executive order on "Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the 'Waters of the United States' Rule." The February order states that it is in the national interest to ensure that the nation's navigable waters are kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of Congress and the States under the Constitution.

For more information about the rulemaking, visit this website.