The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy on Wednesday urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw its Waters of the United States rule, which is meant to clarity EPA’s authority to regulatory smaller bodies of water, such as rivers and streams.  The SBA’s Office of Advocacy is mandated with making sure federal agencies take small businesses into consideration when making new rules.

The EPA has drawn criticism from business groups but this is the first time that another federal agency has asked for withdrawal. In comments filed on the rule on Wednesday, the SBA Office of Advocacy said that the rule would have a “significant and potentially costly impact on small business” and that the agencies used the wrong baseline for the Regulatory Flexibility Act certification.  SBA said it is “extremely concerned by the rule” and “advises the agencies to withdraw the rule.”

Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau Federation applauded the SBA, saying the proposed regulation would be too much of a burden.  “The SBA’s frankness may surprise some, but it does not surprise us.  EPA has been heedless and cavalier in its disregard to the American farmers who would be most affected by this unworkable proposal,” Stallman said.

EPA proposed the rule in April in an effort to prevent smaller bodies of water from polluting larger water sources.  Under the rule, streams that flow into a regulated body of water would fall under the agency’s jurisdiction.

EPA responded in a statement that the Office of Management and Budget, the Justice Department, and the Council of Environmental Quality agreed that certification of the proposed rule under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act is “fully consistent with the law and past practice.”  EPA noted that it had convened a roundtable with the SBA and small businesses before the proposal was published and that it is working with SBA now to convene a second small business round table to solicit input on the proposal to ensure that the final rule protects clean water and jobs without creating regulatory burdens.