The Environmental Protection Agency held the first of ten stakeholder meetings regarding changes to the Waters of the U.S. Rule, and the nation’s largest farmer organization is calling for more viewpoints in future roundtables.
EPA’s first WOTUS roundtable Monday didn’t address farmers need for clear rules, according to American Farm Bureau Federation’s Courtney Briggs, senior director of government affairs, and she also questioned the panel’s level of experience.
“In theory, these meetings are designed to bring folks with different perspectives together to talk about regionally specific implementation concerns pertaining to WOTUS. And the list of participants for this first roundtable was diverse on paper, but we are very concerned about the lack of diversity of experience on the panel. And few of these participants have actually navigated the regulatory process associated with Clean Water Act compliance.”
After round one, Briggs says Farm Bureau was disappointed in the results.
“We were very disappointed. First, I think the credibility of the roundtable was hurt by the lack of any mainstream agricultural representatives at the meeting. Additionally, there was really no meaningful discussion of the law. So, EPA can only make an informed decision if it seeks out and listens to all viewpoints, and we share the goal of clean water that was expressed by many of the participants, but farmers and ranchers need clear rules and this roundtable failed to address how both of those goals can be achieved.”
She says American Farm Bureau will stay engaged in the process with nine of the ten roundtables still to come. The next is May 23rd. The remaining meetings happen in June and they are all livestreamed. The schedule is here.