Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just in Washington

Black Canyon Irrigation District
Simpson Opposes Efforts to Overregulate Agriculture

WASHINGTON, DC -- Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today joined his colleagues on the Congressional Western Caucus in sending a letter to House and Senate leadership opposing the Clean Water Restoration Act. This legislation would dramatically expand federal jurisdiction over agricultural uses of water and is strongly opposed by Idaho’s agriculture community.

The so-called Clean Water Restoration Act would remove the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act’s definition of waters covered by the Act’s provisions, making virtually any water body in the United States potentially subject to EPA permitting and enforcement authorities. This would include water tanks, irrigation canals, ponds, drainage ditches, and even mud holes. Currently non-navigable waters are regulated by the States.

“I’m deeply concerned that this legislation would give the federal government such a broad reach that it would significantly restrict farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to make decisions about their own property and threaten Idaho’s control over state water rights,” said Simpson. “The Clean Water Restoration Act is a big government land grab, pure and simple, and it is being forced on the agriculture community by people who don’t know the first thing about crops or cows.”

Twenty-seven Senators and Members of Congress representing western states, including Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, joined Congressman Simpson in signing the letter. The letter opposes any legislative effort to expand federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction over water in the West.

“In the West, few things have been more important in our states’ history than water,” the letter reads. “In the areas we represent, where the frontier spirit of smaller government and individual liberty are still sacred traditions, there is overwhelming objection to this bill.”

S.787, the Clean Water Restoration Act, was marked up in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in June, and Idaho Senator Mike Crapo has placed a hold on Senate consideration of the bill. A House companion to the legislation has not yet been introduced.

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