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BrownfieldAgNews reports:

Despite the EPA's outreach efforts on its Waters of the U.S. rule, and numerous efforts by ag organizations to convey their concerns, the impasse over the proposed rule appears to be as wide as ever.

Ken Kopocis, deputy assistant administrator in the Office of Water at EPA, says they do not see the rule having any significant impact on the agricultural community.

"We believe that the proposed rule would cover fewer waters than what the current rule covers," Kopocis says. "So we do not believe we're expanding jurisdiction."

Kopocis says the EPA hears the ag industry's concerns. "We've probably spent more time with representatives of the agricultural community than any other single sector," he says.

"(They) have been very clear that they do see some potential impacts and that's why we want to have the dialogue-that's why we want to hear from them in the comment period-to make sure what we say we are intending to do matches up with how it's perceived, not only by the regulated community, but by regulators going forward as well."

Kopocis was asked if the EPA has a trust issue within the ag community.

"I don't know whether there's a trust issue. I won't speak on behalf of that," Kopocis says. "I do know that we have not had the best relations with the agricultural community and both this office and the administrator in particular are very interested in trying to address that."

Ag groups see the proposal as a power grab by the EPA, which would expand the agency's regulatory power to nearly all waters on farms and ranches.

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