April 30, Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) announced they are introducing bipartisan legislation to repeal EPA’s “Waters of the United States” proposal, a proposal that will jeopardize the rights of private property owners across the country. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council applaud the Senators for actively working to stop EPA’s aggressive attempt to expand federal jurisdiction over nearly all waters.
Under the proposal, nearly all waters in the country will be subject to regulation, regardless of size or continuity of flow. NCBA President Philip Ellis said Congressional action is imperative to stopping the rule from moving forward. S.1140 Federal Water Quality Protection Act requires the EPA and Army Corps to withdraw the rule and re-write their proposal with consideration of stakeholders and review of economic and small business input, following through with the straightforward procedures EPA skipped the first time. The bill also requires EPA to adhere to definitions included in the bill, specifically limiting the reach of a new rule.
“EPA Administrator McCarthy has already sent her final rule to the Office of Management and Budget,” said Ellis. “Finalizing the rule only six months after receiving over one million comments sends a clear message that EPA has no intention of listening to the broad array of stakeholders and is pushing forward with a problematic rule.”
The EPA has made several claims that the rule does not expand the reach of the Clean Water Act and has even gone as far to say cattlemen’s concerns are “ludicrous.” Yet, the rule’s subjective language leaves regulation up to the whim of individual regulators. PLC President Brenda Richards called the rule no more than a regulatory land grab.
“The ranching industry prides itself on being a good steward of our country’s natural resources,” said Richards, who ranches in Idaho. “We maintain open spaces, healthy rangelands, preserve wildlife habitat, and provide the country with healthy and nutritious food we all love. To provide all these important functions, livestock producers must be able to operate without excessive and subjective federal burdens.”
Ellis added, “The rule is so problematic, there is simply no way for EPA to make a few quick fixes and make it work for cattlemen and women. The agencies need to start over, and this time, talk to stakeholders before drafting a rule.”
NCBA and PLC urge Congress to pass this important piece of legislation, along with the House version, H.R. 1732 Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, without delay to preserve state and private water rights.