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EPA seeks to expand authority to all water
Virtually all waters of the United States could fall under regulatory control of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if the agency is successful in expanding the scope of the Clean Water Act.
“Every puddle could be under (EPA's) regulation,” according to Rep. Bob Gibbs, R – Lakeville, a member of the House Agriculture Committee. If EPA wants to expand the Clean Water Act, “they need to come back to the Congress and go through an open process of debate. They shouldn’t be doing it through executive fiat.”
A Guidance Document, which explains EPA’s interpretation of how it should carry out the law, would expand the agency's authority beyond what Congress authorized in the Clean Water Act and is contrary to limits imposed by the Supreme Court. Congress has specifically chosen to limit EPA authority by applying the Clean Water Act only to "navigable" waters. The Guidance Document ignores Congressional intent and effectively takes the term “navigable” out of the law.
Farm Bureau’s view is that Clean Water Act authority should be limited to navigable streams and flowing waterways that have continuous flow. EPA’s guidance document would enable it to claim federal jurisdiction over any wet area in the United States, even if water is present for only a few days a year.
Gibbs, a past president of Ohio Farm Bureau, is a co-sponsor of H.R. 4965, which would keep EPA from enacting its proposed expansion of authority. Gibbs said the bill has “strong bipartisan support.”
Ohio Farm Bureau, in cooperation with other states and the American Farm Bureau, will be calling on farmers to communicate with both EPA and Congress. Details are forthcoming on the grassroots effort to deny EPA’s efforts to expand its authority beyond the scope of the law.