New House Bill to Tackle Clean Water Act Move

A bipartisan measure introduced late last week aims to head off a move by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers on water management.

Published on: Apr 30, 2012

A fight that's been brewing for just over a year, got some Congressional movement Friday. Four Congressmen - John Mica, R-Fla.; Nick Rahall, D-W.V.; Frank Lucas, R-Okla.; Collin Peterson, D-Minn. and Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio - introduced a bill that would prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps. of Engineers from using their clean water guidance to expand the regulatory regime under the Clean Water Act.

A draft, released April 26, 2011, was a proposal by EPA and the Corps. that attempts to give the two organizations jurisdiction over all types of water and many features that the National Cattlemen's Beef Association says aren't water at all. NCBA along with the Public Lands council say the guidance document claims to provide clarity and certainty to landowners. According to PLC President John Falen, if the guidance is finalized, the only thing livestock producers can be clear and certain about is more federal regulation and costly permits.

New House Bill to Tackle Clean Water Act Move
New House Bill to Tackle Clean Water Act Move

"This is a direct hit on the private property rights of farmers and ranchers across this country," said Falen, who is a Nevada rancher. "We will fight hard against this administration's ongoing efforts to curtail the private property rights of farmers and ranchers by regulating them to the brink of bankruptcy. We commend the representatives for standing up for private property rights and the preservation of American agriculture."

J.D. Alexander, president, NCBA says despite three Supreme Court rulings and a letter from 170 members of Congress opposing the guidance, EPA and the Corps have "crowned themselves kings" of every drop of water in the country. He said this bill is the best path forward in preventing the guidance from becoming reality. This legislation is subsequent to the Preserve the Waters of the United States Act, which is almost identical to H.R. 4965, introduced by U.S. Senators John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Dean Heller, R-Nev.; Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.; and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., March 28, 2012.