Acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks on SOTU in Dearing

Acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks on SOTU in Dearing

DEARING (WFXG) - The McCorkle Farm was where an acting member of the president’s cabinet made a stop in the CSRA Wednesday. The Environmental Protection Agency’s acting Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, was in Dearing, Ga. joined by other EPA officials promoting the president’s State of the Union Address and other EPA plans.

Some of the things Wheeler spoke about were the new nutrient reduction policy, water infrastructure and his main talking point, the Waters of the United States rule.

Wheeler wants there to be a clear definition on the difference between federal and state waterways. With that clarification he will also speed up the process for farmers to use water collected their land.

According to Wheeler, it has taken some farmers years for approval or rejection and now he wants to make sure it takes no more than a few months to reach a decision.

“We want to speed that up so people can identify for themselves whether or not they need a federal permit and then start that process. And at the other end of the process we want to try and reach decisions on permits much faster we want to get a decision made within 6 months so we don’t have these projects taking years," Wheeler said.

FOX 54 also spoke with a farmer on his thoughts of the proposed changes and how it affects his farm. Many of the farmers agreed with what Wheeler had to say as well as some of the proposed changes.

Ben Boyd, of Boyd Farms, says it’s like a breath of fresh air to hear the proposals so that farmers can be in partnership with the EPA instead of fighting against them.

“Being a farmer I feel like I’m the biggest environmentalist you’ll find so when the EPA administrator comes down here and tells us he’s listening and trying to help us it feels good, it makes us feel like we can we can feed the world and take care of the environment because we want clean water and safe farming,” Boyd said.

Boyd also says it will be very helpful to have the permit decisions fast tracked so he will be able to fix the problems on his farm sooner than later. The EPA and the Army will have a webcast on February 14th to help explain what is included in the proposal for redefining the definition of Waters in the United States.

For more information on the Waters of the United States rule you can visit https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule.

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