Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) is supporting a bill passed by the House of Representatives that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw its controversial “Waters of the U.S.” rule, which would expand federal regulatory authority beyond navigable waters to virtually every acre of farmland across the United States.
“We believe the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015 is an important first step in resolving potential problems created by the WOTUS rule,” said PFB President Rick Ebert. “Farmers are extremely concerned about the potential problems and requirements they could face if the rule is finalized.”
Farm Bureau notes that under the proposed rule, EPA and the Corps are claiming regulatory power never intended by Congress under the Clean Water Act, while the agencies efforts to expand their authority to regulate areas beyond navigable waters have been rejected by two U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Furthermore, attempts by these agencies to obtain additional power through amendments to the Clean Water Act have also been rejected by Congress on several occasions.
“Farmers could be forced to obtain an expensive federal permit for routine tasks such as installing a fence near a ditch, or if water collects on a farm field after a heavy rainstorm,” added Ebert.
The bill (HR 1732) is sponsored by Pennsylvania Congressman Bill Shuster (R-9th), who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Shuster has said he has significant concerns about federal overreach and the impact new rules would have on agriculture and other industries. Meanwhile, similar Farm Bureau supported legislation (S 1140), known as the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.
“It’s unfortunate that EPA and the Corps have failed to withdraw the rule after receiving tens of thousands of comments from agriculture, other industries and state and local governments opposing its implementation. Farmers put a lot of time and money into significantly reducing the environmental impact of raising food and are already heavily regulated. We are now seeking legislative action to stop EPA and the Corps from imposing a rule that would substantially increase their regulatory powers over water and land,” concluded Ebert.