New Clean Water Act proposal threatens farmers

Created: 4/28/11 (Thu) | Topic: Issues

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released proposed Clean Water Act rules on Wednesday that would give the federal government control over an expanding amount of private farm and ranch ground.

Don Parrish, senior regulatory specialist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, said the proposed new rules threaten farmers and ranchers across the country because they would add new federal regulatory control over farms and ranches. He said the proposed rules are a clear infringement on private property rights and would likely have little impact on water quality.

“This guidance should shock all of agriculture because it creates an overly broad view of ‘waters of the U.S.’ and it gives the federal government authority to regulate any body of water anywhere,” Parrish said. “Plus, it gives the federal government new authority to dictate land-use decisions. If this new regulatory guidance is put on the books, farmers and ranchers will face more Clean Water Act permitting requirements, more federal control of their land and they will be strangled with even more red tape.”

The EPA and Corps have established a 60-day public comment period on the proposed new guidance. AFBF will submit comments outlining the extreme harm the regulations will bring to agriculture, Parrish said.

Meanwhile, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said the guidance “builds a foundation for the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to regulate essentially any body of water, such as a farm pond or even a ditch.

“Once again the EPA is trying to broaden its jurisdiction without authority to do so,” Lucas told the Radio Oklahoma Network. “Changes to the regulatory scheme of the Clean Water Act should be done through notice and rule-making or legislative action. Issuing a guidance document is informal and ambiguous. If this is important to the administration, I urge it to reconsider this approach and move forward with a transparent rule-making process.”

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