Regulatory Guidance Has Challengers

Members from both sides of the aisle of Congress come down against changing scope of Clean Water Act.

Published on: Apr 19, 2011

The American Farm Bureau Federation and National Cattlemen's Beef Association are pleased with the bipartisan support of 170 members of Congress in challenging 'regulatory guidance' that the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are considering for the Clean Water Act. The guidance would take an overly broad view of waters of the U.S.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Army Corps of Engineers Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, the members of Congress wrote that the significant changes to the scope of Clean Water jurisdiction put forward in the guidance concern them and that it amounts to a de facto rule rather than advisory guidelines.

"The Agencies cannot, through guidance change the scope and meaning of the Clean Water Act or the statute's implementing regulations," the letter said. "If the Administration seeks statutory changes to the Clean Water Act, a proposal must be submitted to Congress for legislative action. We are very concerned by the action contemplated by the Agencies, and we strongly urge you to reconsider the proposed guidance."

Farm Bureau says the guidance would serve as a road map for EPA and the Corps to designate nearly all water bodies, and even some dry land, as subject to federal regulations that dictate land-use decisions. If unchecked, the guidance would lead to more Clean Water Act permitting requirements, more litigation and less economic growth at a time when our nation needs it most.

According to NCBA Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley Lyon if EPA has its way government overreach will continue to financially devastate farmers and ranchers across the nation.

Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says the proper procedure for putting federal policy in place is either by proposing formal rules after taking public comments into consideration or proposing legislation for Congress to consider. He says this current regulatory guidance effort for the Clean Water Act circumvents that process, implements controversial new policy and expands the federal government's regulatory reach without public input or Congress' authorization.