‘Ditch the Rule’

‘Ditch the Rule’
Created by rrummel on 4/29/2014 4:07:29 PM

Farm Bureau ~ vs ~ EPA Rule


The American Farm BureauFederation today asked its members to resist a proposed rule from theEnvironmental Protection Agency that it says will impose unworkable regulationson the nation's farms.

Published Monday in theFederal Register, the more-than-111,000-word "Waters of the U.S."proposed rule reflects the EPA's latest interpretation of the 1972 Clean WaterAct. The rule could ultimately lead to the unlawful expansion of federalregulation to cover routine farming and ranching practices as well as othercommon private land uses, such as building homes.

"This rule is an end runaround congressional intent and rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, alike,"AFBF President Bob Stallman says. "Congress and the courts have both saidthat the 50 states, not EPA, have power to decide how farming and other landuses should be restricted. It's time to ditch this rule."

Among other things, the rulewould expand federal control over land features such as ditches and areas ofagricultural land that are wet only during storms.

EPA says its new ruleclarifies the scope of the Clean Water Act. However, EPA's"clarification" is achieved by categorically classifying most waterfeatures and even dry land as "waters of the United States."

If carried out, Farm Bureausays, ordinary field work, fence construction or even planting could require afederal permit. The result will be a wave of new regulation or outrightprohibitions on routine farming practices and other land uses.

"Congress, not federalagencies, writes the laws of the land," Stallman said. "When Congresswrote the Clean Water Act, it clearly intended for the law to apply tonavigable waters. Is a small ditch navigable? Is a stock pond navigable? Wereally don't think so, and Farm Bureau members are going to be sending thatmessage."

EPA contends that an entireset of exemptions will protect many farmers from the burdensome new rule. ButStallman counters that those exemptions will only apply to farming that hasbeen 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 farmpractices. The already narrow exemptions, Stallman says, have existed for yearsbut have been further narrowed by EPA guidance issued simultaneously with theproposed rule.

"The EPA exemptionsoffer no meaningful protection for the hundreds of thousands of farmers andranchers whose operations and livelihoods are threatened by this expansion ofEPA's regulatory reach," Stallman says.

"EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers havesaid the WOTUS rule provides clarity and certainty. The only thing that isclear and certain is that, under this rule, it will be more difficult forprivate landowners to farm and ranch, build homes or make changes to the land –even if the changes that landowners propose would benefit the environment. Thisis pure and simply wrong, and it is why we need to ditch the rule."print
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