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The American Farm Bureau Federation is asking its members to resist a proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency that it says will impose unworkable regulations on the nation’s farms.
Published in the Federal Register, the more-than-111,000-word “Waters of the U.S.” proposed rule reflects the EPA’s latest interpretation of the 1972 Clean Water Act. The rule could ultimately lead to the unlawful expansion of federal regulation to cover routine farming and ranching practices as well as other common private land uses, such as building homes.
“This rule is an end run around congressional intent and rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, alike,” AFBF President Bob Stallman says. “Congress and the courts have both said that the 50 states, not EPA, have power to decide how farming and other land uses should be restricted. It’s time to ditch this rule.”
Among other things, the rule would expand federal control over land features such as ditches and areas of agricultural land that are wet only during storms.
EPA says its new rule clarifies the scope of the Clean Water Act. However, EPA’s “clarification” is achieved by categorically classifying most water features and even dry land as “waters of the United States.”
If carried out, Farm Bureau says, ordinary field work, fence construction or even planting could require a federal permit. The result will be a wave of new regulation or outright prohibitions on routine farming practices and other land uses.