WASHINGTON, D.C.–IF you own land with a pond or a lake, a new rule being pushed by the Obama administration could give the feds the authority to regulate that water under the redefinition of the “Waters of the United States”, a rule that Sen. Roger Wicker said he opposes as “unworkable”.
Wicker said in a statement Thursday that the president’s proposed expansion of the “Clean Water Act” would “be a disaster for property owners and state and local authorities”.
While the Environmental Protection Agency has denied that farm ponds and other such waterways would be regulated, and would still be granted decades-old exemptions, the fear from some is that the expansion would give the EPA that authority, which could be used on a case-by-case basis.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would have the say-so on how the water could be used, with the water’s status equal to “navigable waters”.
“Increasing the scope of this rule is inconsistent with Supreme Court rulings and would be unworkable for Americans. Farmers and ranchers should be able to manage their own ponds, irrigation systems, and ditches without interference from the federal government,” said Wicker.
“Stakeholders throughout the country have submitted nearly one million comments on the rule. Unfortunately, it is likely that the public’s input will not be considered by the Administration because of its rush to finalize this ill-conceived overreach,” Wicker added.
Wicker has supported multiple efforts in Congress to stop the Administration’s proposed rule from being finalized. He is a cosponsor of the “Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014.”
The EPA website has a fact-or-fiction section about the proposed new rules:
MYTH: The rule would regulate all ditches, even those that only flow after rainfall.TRUTH: The proposed rule actually reduces regulation of ditches because for the first time it would exclude ditches that are constructed through dry lands and don’t have water year-round. Tweet the truth
MYTH: A permit is needed for walking cows across a wet field or stream.TRUTH: No. Normal farming and ranching activities don’t need permits under the Clean Water Act, including moving cattle.
MYTH: Ponds on the farm will be regulated.TRUTH: The proposed rule does not change the exemption for farm ponds that has been in place for decades. It would for the first time specifically exclude stock watering and irrigation ponds constructed in dry lands.
MYTH: Groundwater is regulated by the Clean Water Act.TRUTH: The proposed rule specifically excludes groundwater.
MYTH: The federal government is going to regulate puddles and water on driveways and playgrounds.TRUTH: Not remotely true. Such water is never jurisdictional.
MYTH: EPA is gaining power over farms and ranches.TRUTH: No. All historical exclusions and exemptions for agriculture are preserved.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a joint House-Senate hearing yesterday on the state and local impacts of the proposed WOTUS changes.