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House approves bill to withdraw Waters of the U.S. proposed rule

House approves bill to withdraw Waters of the U.S. proposed rule
House votes 261-155 on bill to withdraw EPA's Waters of the U.S. proposal

The House on Wednesday evening approved by a 261-155 vote H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, to withdraw the proposed "waters of the United States" rule.

The House vote was supported by several agriculture groups including the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and American Farm Bureau.

Agriculture groups have been concerned about the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers' proposal as they are concerned it could lead to additional water regulations that make it difficult to continue farming and ranching effectively. Others are concerned that the proposal may infringe on private landowners' rights.

Related: House committee approves bill to nix Waters of the U.S. proposal

House votes 261-155 on bill to withdraw EPA's Waters of the U.S. proposal

"The proposed rule that the EPA and Army Corps are working quickly to finalize would put yet another regulatory burden on the rural economy and private landowners," NCBA President Philip Ellis said following the House vote Tuesday.

"This action by Congress will ensure that our private lands remain viable and productive, leaving landowners free to undertake stewardship and production decisions without interference by the EPA and the Administration. We urge the Senate to pass their companion legislation and send this to the President's desk."

The WOTUS proposed rule is currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget at the White House, a final step before approval. The proposal moved through several public comment periods and was subject to some changes following public comment submissions. Those changes have not been specifically released, though EPA has shared some broad elements of the proposal.

“The way that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers drew up the WOTUS rule, it was more about regulating land than it ever was about protecting valuable water resources," American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said Tuesday.

Stallman stressed farmers' and ranchers' conservation measures that have helped to cut land erosion, as well as efforts to expand the use of technology that helps farmers apply the right amount of fertilizer at the right time.

Related: EPA Review Board Stands By Waters of the U.S. Proposal

"We look forward to a new water rule that recognizes the enormous work we have done, and honors the limits authorized by Congress and the Supreme Court," Stallman said. "It was refreshing to see members of Congress order regulators back to the drawing board, with an admonition to listen to the very real concerns of people who would have their farm fields and ditches regulated in the same manner as navigable streams."

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