New EPA, Army Corps Proposal Amounts to 'Land Grab,' Says NCBA Environmental CounselWed, 02 Apr 2014 12:41:06 CDT
Is the proposal made last month by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to expand the scope of waters covered by the Clean Water Act really good for agriculture? In the latest Beef Buzz, Ashley McDonald, an attorney specializing in environmental issues with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, gives the proposal an emphatic thumbs down.
"The agencies are stating that this is actually a clarification of the definition of waters of the United States which, if you simply look at the proposed rule which is 371 pages, I think that gives you a good idea of exactly how 'clear' this rule is.
"A farmer out there on his property is going to have to read through 371 pages just to see if his ditch is covered or not. There's three different types of ditches, two of which are exempted, some of which activities are exempted on, but they're going to have to look at all of those to understand if they need a federal permit-and what type of federal permit-just to do routine activities that happen to impact that ditch.
"I think that underscores the clarity that this rule provides to farmers and ranchers across the country."
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas reacted harshly to the rule when it was unveiled, saying it was time Congress reined in the EPA.
"Let me just simply say that this is another example of why we need to reform the statutes that deal with clean water, the endangered species act, there are a number of things out there that since their passage through rules and regulations and interpretation by various bureaucrats in the executive branch have taken on a life all on their own... This is another example, some people say, of the President trying to rule by decree through the bureaucracy and that's just wrong."
At the new rule's rollout, the EPA touted a number of exclusions that would apply to agriculture. McDonald says the exclusions do not give the clarity that farmers and ranchers have been asking for for 30 years. Plus, she says, there are a number of "gotchas" in the proposal that make the regulations even more confusing, more burdensome and more costly to landowners without providing any additional benefits.
"It's going to provide farmers with zero clarity. The only thing they're going to know is that their waters probably need some sort of federal permit to do any type of activity on their land."
McDonald says the proposed rule will cover more waters that are not now covered which contradicts the EPA's public statements.
"In our view," McDonald says, "it will regulate more waters. It will regulate, in fact, more land than they have regulated before. This is a land grab. This is controlling the land."
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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