Two groups that represent the interests of a large portion of rural land owners and users has a message for the federal government: Don’t drown land owners in a regulatory flood! The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council filed comments calling for the immediate withdrawal of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed “waters of the United States” rule, a proposal that would vastly expands the government’s jurisdiction and attempts to regulate all land uses.
“The agencies’ proposal jeopardizes private property rights and violates Supreme Court precedent by subjecting nearly all waters to regulation,” said NCBA Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald. “Through the use of broad and ambiguous language, the proposal is a limitless expansion of authority that cannot be supported by the Clean Water Act or the U.S. Constitution.”
In the eight months the proposal has been public, cattlemen and women have voiced their concerns only to have them deemed “ludicrous” by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. NCBA and PLC state the agencies must start over with a transparent and inclusive process with more stakeholder involvement.
Dustin Van Liew, Public Lands Council executive director, added that while there is a need for clarification, this attempt by the EPA and the Corps will only add layers of bureaucracy and subjectivity to the Clean Water Act, further muddling the landscape.
“The proposed rule places no limit on the federal government’s authority over water, violating the Clean Water Act as articulated by the Supreme Court, and will eviscerate over a century of settled water law in much of the country,” said Van Liew. “Contrary to the agencies’ claims, the exclusions and exemptions in the proposal are unclear and provide the livestock industry no certainty.”
Livestock producers and rural landowners are being encouraged to get their public comments in while they can by sending the original and three copies of the comments to: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460, Attention: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880.