Thursday, February 5, 2015

Just in from Washington

House-Senate hearing scrutinizes state, local impacts of WOTUS rule

Washington—At a rare joint hearing today, House and Senate lawmakers are examining the impacts of a proposed Clean Water Act rule on state and local governments. EPA’s Waters of the U.S. proposal, farmers and ranchers have long warned, would expand federal jurisdiction over land and related land use activities far beyond what Congress authorized in the Clean Water Act. 

In a letter to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Penn.), American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said the organization is pleased the committees are standing up for farmers and ranchers to shed light on this unprecedented expansion of the federal government’s regulation of farm and ranch lands.

“It has been nearly a year since EPA and the Corps first proposed this rule, yet the farm and ranch community still lacks the clarity and certainty that was promised,” Stallman wrote. “We have asked the questions and submitted our comments, yet the agricultural community still needs clear and straight answers from administration officials over the intent and actual meaning of this proposed rule.”

Hearing witnesses include Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, and Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary for the army, for civil works. Officials from Oklahoma and New York, as well as representatives of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the National Association of Counties will testify as well. 

The hearing comes on the heels of the introduction of legislation (H.R. 594) to prohibit EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing rule. 

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