Small businesses urge EPA to drop water rule

Small businesses are accusing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of a "massive power grab" to extend its authority over small bodies of water like streams, ponds and even puddles.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) says the EPA's controversial water regulation would be particularly troublesome for farmers, because it would devalue their land and prevent them from growing crops in certain places.

In comments filed with the EPA on Wednesday, the NFIB asks the agency to withdraw the “waters of the U.S. rule.”

“When Congress gave the EPA authority over US waters it clearly didn’t mean every body of water,” said Dan Bosch, the NFIB's manager of regulatory policy.

The EPA already regulates large bodies of water under the Clean Water Act, but the agency is seeking to extend its authority to smaller bodies of water that feed into those larger water sources.

Green groups say the rule will ensure clean water across the country, but challenges are mounting from business groups and Republicans.

The NFIB represents many farmers who are concerned the EPA will slow production on their lands by gaining authority over what they see as insignificant amounts of water.

This could greatly depreciate the value of their farms, they say.

"Landowners will be more hesitant to engage in development projects or to make other economically beneficial uses of their properties," the small-business group wrote.

The NFIB filed its comments early, ahead of the Nov. 14 deadline imposed by the EPA. The agency has twice extended the comment period, first in June and then again last week.