Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just in from Washington

AFBF Supports Clean Water Act Amendment
Washington--In a letter sent to senators on Monday, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman urged senators to support an amendment introduced by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) to the Energy and Water “Minibus.”

The amendment would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing their “Draft Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act” or from fast-tracking a regulation based on the draft guidance

The amendment is expected to reach the Senate floor as early as today or Wednesday.

If enacted, the EPA and Corps guidance would drastically expand federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act. The heart of the draft guidance is the agencies’ intent to expand the definition of “waters of the U.S.” to include ditches and other ephemeral features that have water flow only during, and for a short duration after, precipitation events.

“Never in the history of the CWA has federal regulation defined ditches and other upland drainage features as ‘waters of the U.S,’” Stallman wrote. “The draft guidance, if finalized or adopted through rulemaking, would allow the agencies to regulate, among other things, all linear features or similarly situated features that contain ‘standing water’ regardless of the frequency or duration of the ‘flow.’ This is an extremely broad view of the scope of ‘waters of the U.S.’ that would encompass many manmade and natural landscape features not readily recognizable as ‘waters.’”

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