The House passed H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Act of 2015, by a vote of 261-155 yesterday. This bill would force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers to stop moving forward with the proposed “Waters of the United States” rule.

As soon as the vote was announced, agricultural groups began thanking House members who voted for the act. The first statement came from Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

In part, Stallman said, “Members of the House today sent a strong, bipartisan message that the flawed Waters of the U.S. Rule is unacceptable and should be scrapped. Furthermore, 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.

“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.”

House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) spoke in support of H.R. 1732 before the final House vote. “This (WOTUS) rule, in its current form, is a massive overreach of EPA’s authority and will impact nearly every farmer and rancher in America. It gives EPA the ability to regulate essentially any body of water they want, including farm ponds and even ditches that are dry for most of the year. The EPA’s defense of this rule is that it provides clarity to producers regarding what is and is not regulated, but in reality, this rule will allow nearly every body of water in the United States to be controlled by federal regulators.

“What makes the rule ambiguous is the claim made by EPA and the Army Corps that the rule is not all encompassing, yet the agencies also declared they will use their best professional judgment on when they will regulate a water and when they will not. These vague statements hold little comfort for farmers and ranchers who will face steep civil fines for any violation,” Conaway said.