EPA, Corps use Clean Water Act to expand authority
States could be facing upwards of 100,000 added regulated stream miles as a result of the “Waters of the United States” rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). While the agencies continue to claim their proposal does not expand the scope of the Clean Water Act, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and Missouri Farm Bureau showcased new interactive maps today, Aug. 14, 2014, at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, Mo., that illustrate how the proposal will impact property owners throughout the country.
“The maps highlight just how far the proposed rule would expand federal jurisdiction over waters across the country,” said Ashley McDonald, NCBA environmental counsel. “In Missouri alone, nearly 80,000 additional stream miles will be under the regulatory authority of EPA and the Corps. Logic and commonsense tells us that the surrounding land will also be regulated more than ever before. This rule just continues this administration’s regulatory rampage and enough is enough. Farmers and ranchers are not confused and are well aware of this administration’s blatant attempt to control every drop of water and every piece of private land in this country.”
The proposal goes as far to include ditches in the definition of a tributary. McDonald said any activity near a jurisdictional ditch will now require a federal permit and as a result, many farmers and ranchers will need to acquire permits for routine land use activities.
“Instead of providing the clarity that so many people have asked for, the agencies have instead proposed a rule that muddies the water even further through their clever use of ambiguous and vague terminology,” said McDonald. “Their actions have only created more questions for farmers and ranchers. The agency’s proposed rule adds more layers of government bureaucracy and red tape and amounts to nothing more than a pervasive invasion of private property rights.”
NCBA is working with a multi-industry coalition to ensure private property rights are protected. If this proposed rule is not withdrawn, according to McDonald, family farmers and ranchers will find themselves at the “mercy of the regulatory whims of the federal government.”
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