NDFB urges members to contact Pomeroy on Oberstar bill

Created: 4/30/10 (Fri) | Topic: Issues

North Dakota Farm Bureau is encouraging members to contact Representative Pomeroy and urge him not to support or cosponsor Rep. James Oberstar's (D-Minn.) water bill, because it could have serious consequences for North Dakota.

H.R. 5088, expands federal control beyond the existing Clean Water Act and would effectively empower the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Corps of Engineers (Corps) to reinstate the "migratory bird" rule as a means of asserting federal jurisdiction over isolated bodies of water.  This expanded authority would also allow the regulation of waters on private land based on impacts to federal land and other property belonging to the federal government.

 The language in H.R. 5088 also fails to define a number of key terms that EPA and the Corps are likely to be given broad discretion to define. For example, the regulatory term "tributary" is not defined and the regulatory agencies have historically used this term in order to expand jurisdiction and regulate any water that has been channelized. In addition, the regulatory term "adjacent" has historically been give a broad meaning.
The chairman's bill undermines the existing regulatory treatment of prior converted cropland. For almost 20 years, federal regulations have treated prior converted cropland as outside the jurisdiction of the CWA. H.R. 5088 pulls prior converted cropland back into CWA jurisdiction. This significant change will subject millions of acres of private land to federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction. Currently 53 million acres are treated as prior converted cropland. The Economic Research Service of USDA has estimated the value of prior converted cropland to be $160 billion - a value that will be significantly affected should EPA and the Corps assert jurisdiction over this property. 
If you would like to contact Rep. Pomeroy and urge him to not support or cosponsor H.R. 5088, use NDFB’s Action Alert program to easily send a message.


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