The nation’s county governments and farmers are partnering to oppose legislation to significantly expand the federal jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The National Association of Counties’ (NACo) and the American Farm Bureau Federation are concerned that the Clean Water Restoration Act would needlessly expand the federal reach of CWA and result in significant negative impacts on farmers, ranchers, local governments and local economies without improving protections of the nation’s critical water resources. Both organizations stressed that they support current CWA provisions and enforcement of state and local environmental protection laws. The groups have expressed their concern to Congress that eliminating the word “navigable” from the definition of “waters of the United States” would result in an unprecedented expansion of federal authority. AFBF President Bob Stallman called the bill “regulatory overkill,” which largely disregards the positive conservation role farmers and ranchers are playing. “By replacing ‘navigable waters’ with ‘all intrastate waters,’ the federal government would have control of structures such as drainage ditches, which are only wet during rain events,” Stallman said. “Rather than restore the Clean Water Act, it just brings a new truckload of restrictions for the people who do most to protect our water.” The bill would require that counties obtain a federal permit before any project of any size could move forward if it affects any wet area. Ohio Farm Bureau has expressed strong concern and opposition to the bill to Ohio elected leaders. OFBF is very appreciative the strong concerns Sen. Voinovich’s has expressed about the bill as it moves forward in the Senate.
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