Tester takes Montanans’ water rule comments to Washington

Senator has met with producers, sportsmen and women, small business owners

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester is making sure officials in Washington hear Montanans’ opinions about the proposed “Waters of the United States” rule.

Earlier this year the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed a new rule clarifying the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. The proposal aims to preserve clean water while protecting critical agriculture practices and exemptions. The proposal has been welcomed by some, but others have voiced concerns.

Tester, who has been meeting with producers, sportsmen and women and small business owners about the proposal, this week shared their thoughts with Washington officials.

“Since this proposed rule was published, I have been gathering input from Montanans of all walks of life,” Tester said. “I continue to hear that the proposal goes a long way in protecting clean water, but some have raised legitimate questions about how it would be implemented. Any final rule must be practically implemented on the ground and reflect the comments you receive.”

Tester, the Senate’s only working farmer, said access to clean water is critical to Montana’s agriculture industry and outdoor tourism. He asked for clarity regarding the rule’s definition of normal farming practices, jurisdiction over farm drainage and irrigation ditches, and privacy protections.

Tester added that he has also heard support for the proposed rule from sportsmen and women, as well as agriculture producers and small business owners.

Tester recently pushed back against another proposed rule when he got the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to drop a proposal to require ranchers, brewers, and distillers to comply with new regulations if spent grain – a brewing and distilling byproduct – was made available for animal feed.

“I will continue to stand up for common-sense regulations that meet the needs of Montanans while also fighting back when regulations don’t make sense for working folks and small businesses,” Tester said. “Any final water rule must protect our clean water and allow businesses in rural American to thrive.”

Tester’s letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Army John McHugh is available online HERE.

More information about the proposed Waters of the United States rule is available online HERE. Montanans can comment on the proposed rule online until November 14 HERE.