Thursday, September 22, 2016

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Senate committee report details federal overreach under Clean Water Act

Washington--The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's recent report exposes the administration's reckless and unlawful actions in enforcing the Clean Water Act. The report details how the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers have used an overly expansive interpretation of their authority to regulate "waters of the U.S.," according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.
"The case studies presented in the report reflect the serious concerns we have raised for more than two years now: the new 'Waters of the U.S.' rule takes the EPA's and Corps' longstanding regulatory overreach and gives it a new name. The agencies have persistently and unlawfully stretched the limited authority Congress gave them, even to the point of regulating ordinary plowing, a normal farming activity exempted by Congress. They have even claimed authority to regulate tire ruts and puddles found on the farm," Duvall said in a statement.
The report describes many examples of agency staff overstepping their authority. In one case, a farmer was ordered to abandon his field because his ordinary plowing was declared a violation of the Clean Water Act. In another example, a farmer was told he must preserve tire ruts caused by his own vehicle as a wetland, never to disturb them again. And in a third, a farmer was ordered to abandon his plans to plant fruit trees because he had not planted trees on his land before.
Last year, 11 senators put EPA and the Corps on notice that they would watch carefully how they implemented existing law, even before the WOTUS rule takes effect. They told the agencies if they did not provide clarity or eroded traditional exemptions, they could move against the rule.
"The Waters of the U.S. rule, now stayed in federal court, will cement that lawless expansion of authority unless Congress acts to stop it. The time to rein in these agencies is now," Duvall said, urging the Senate to again take up S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act.

The Senate in November failed to invoke cloture and move to debate on the legislation.

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