An effort from U.S. House Republicans, including Idaho Reps. Raul Labrador and Mike Simpson, resulted in a 256-156 House vote May 13 for a resolution to stop the EPA from moving forward with its Waters of the U.S. Rule. Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate have already indicated that they're also working on a proposed resolution that would require the agency to fundamentally revamp the rule.
The EPA says the new rule would clarify its authority, allowing the government to limit pollution—particularly in smaller bodies of water—adding that major bodies of water are largely protected but streams that flow into the larger bodies need more oversight.
The New York Times reports that strong agricultural lobby groups "fear that the rule could impose major new costs and burdens, requiring them to pay fees for environmental assessments and to obtain permits just to till the soil near gullies, ditches or dry streambeds where water flows only when it rains."
"It's going to cause a nightmare for farmers," Don Parish, spokesman for the American Farm Bureau told The Times. ""It could reduce the value of some farmland by as much as 40 percent."
The EPA is digging in, launching its own counter-campaign against the Ag lobby effort. Under the hashtag #DitchtheMyth, the EPA is asking citizens to speak out in favor of the new rule.