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NDFB says EPA water authority a bad idea

Created: 6/27/11 (Mon) | Topic: Issues

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed guidance document that attempts to give the government agency complete authority over all waters of the United States is unwise and  illogical says North Dakota Farm Bureau President Eric Aasmundstad.

“Giving EPA the authority to regulate every ditch, stock pond or culvert is unwise and illogical,” Aasmundstad said. “Giving one agency that much control over a necessary resource goes against everything this country is supposed to be about.”

The proposed document is called "Guidance Regarding Identification of Waters protected by the Clean Water Act (CWA)” and is being proposed by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. When Congress failed to enact legislation that would remove the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act, EPA adopted guidelines that changed the definition of “traditional navigable waters.”

 “If you can’t get what you want with Congress’ blessing, make an end-run around them,” Aasmundstad said. “That seems to be what is happening here. And make no mistake. If this guidance is adopted, EPA could regulate any or all waters found within a state, no matter how small or seemingly unconnected to a federal interest.”

Currently, the definition of “navigable” is that the waters have to be capable of transporting interstate commerce among states. The guidance, however, would change the classification for a water body if it can support “one-time recreational use.”

“One-time recreational use goes too far, is too vague and has no relationship to definitions that have been around for decades,” Aasmundstad said.

According to the guidance proposal, EPA’s authority would also apply to the NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit program.

“This could subject thousands of farmers and ranchers to additional NPDES permitting requirements meaning thousands of new permits and millions of dollars in compliance,” Aasmundstad said.

Farm Bureau submitted formal comments and encouraged its members to do the same. 
 

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