‘Ditch the Rule’ Created by rrummel on 4/29/2014 4:07:29 PM
Farm Bureau ~ vs ~ EPA Rule
The American Farm Bureau
Federation today asked its members to resist a proposed rule from the
Environmental Protection Agency that it says will impose unworkable regulations
on the nation's farms.
Published Monday in the
Federal Register, the more-than-111,000-word "Waters of the U.S."
proposed rule reflects the EPA's latest interpretation of the 1972 Clean Water
Act. The rule could ultimately lead to the unlawful expansion of federal
regulation to cover routine farming and ranching practices as well as other
common private land uses, such as building homes.
"This rule is an end run
around congressional intent and rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, alike,"
AFBF President Bob Stallman says. "Congress and the courts have both said
that the 50 states, not EPA, have power to decide how farming and other land
uses should be restricted. It's time to ditch this rule."
Among other things, the rule
would expand federal control over land features such as ditches and areas of
agricultural land that are wet only during storms.
EPA says its new rule
clarifies the scope of the Clean Water Act. However, EPA's
"clarification" is achieved by categorically classifying most water
features and even dry land as "waters of the United States."
If carried out, Farm Bureau
says, ordinary field work, fence construction or even planting could require a
federal permit. The result will be a wave of new regulation or outright
prohibitions on routine farming practices and other land uses.
"Congress, not federal
agencies, writes the laws of the land," Stallman said. "When Congress
wrote the Clean Water Act, it clearly intended for the law to apply to
navigable waters. Is a small ditch navigable? Is a stock pond navigable? We
really don't think so, and Farm Bureau members are going to be sending that
EPA contends that an entire
set of exemptions will protect many farmers from the burdensome new rule. But
Stallman counters that those exemptions will only apply to farming that has
been ongoing since the 1970s, not new or expanded farms. Even for those farms,
the exemptions do not cover weed control, fertilizer use or other common farm
practices. The already narrow exemptions, Stallman says, have existed for years
but have been further narrowed by EPA guidance issued simultaneously with the
"The EPA exemptions
offer no meaningful protection for the hundreds of thousands of farmers and
ranchers whose operations and livelihoods are threatened by this expansion of
EPA's regulatory reach," Stallman says.
"EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have
said the WOTUS rule provides clarity and certainty. The only thing that is
clear and certain is that, under this rule, it will be more difficult for
private landowners to farm and ranch, build homes or make changes to the land –
even if the changes that landowners propose would benefit the environment. This
is pure and simply wrong, and it is why we need to ditch the rule."