Guest opinion: Flawed EPA water rule overreaches
I would like to respond to a guest opinion that appeared in the July 10 edition regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States rule. Instead of casting accusations and fairy tales, the author should have stuck to facts. What the author did get right was that the EPA did propose its final rule on Waters of the United States. This rule takes effect on Aug. 28 and will add new waters to federal jurisdiction.
The EPA’s claimed need for this rule is that two Supreme Court cases created confusion around the Clean Water Act. This is echoed by the author of the July 10 opinion piece. What neither the EPA nor author want to recognize is that both of these court cases clearly limited the EPA’s jurisdiction to “navigable” water under the Clean Water Act. Only the EPA and its environmental activist friends fail to understand these rulings.
The EPA’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act would expand immensely under its proposed WOTUS rule. Among the numerous questionable provisions, the rule would define “navigable waters” so as to regulate countless ephemeral drains, ditches and “wetlands” that contain water only when it rains.
But whether they are wet or dry on any given day, farming, home building, business expansions, commercial development and countless other land uses in or near these land features will require a federal permit. Permits might take years, or might never be issued. The result amounts to nothing short of federal zoning authority. Not only is this not what Congress had in mind when it wrote the Clean Water Act but it would effectively give environmental groups veto power over any development.
Furthermore, this rule was flawed from its beginning. According to Agripulse, “Internal documents released by a House committee show the Army Corps of Engineers questioning the legal and technical basis for the Obama administration’s Clean Water Act rule just weeks before its release.”
I urge the citizens from Colorado to contact the office of Sen. Michael Bennet and ask for his support of S. 1140, the Federal Water Protection Act. This bipartisan legislation bill requires the EPA to reissue the rule that does not include things such as isolated ponds, ditches, agriculture water, storm water, ground water, floodwater, municipal water supply systems, wastewater management systems and streams without enough flow to carry pollutants to navigable waters.
The EPA should work with the states and local governmental entities to develop a common-sense rule that addresses shortfalls without going overboard.
Carlyle Currier is vice president of the Colorado Farm Bureau.
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