"If finalized, [the Clean Water Act Jurisdictional guidance document] would be the biggest federal land-grab in history, requiring cattlemen to apply for permits to conduct everyday activity such as cleaning out a ditch," said Ashley McDonald, NCBA's deputy environmental counsel.
"Congress, to date, has refused to clarify what constitutes a 'water of the United States,' despite the Supreme Court's multiple calls to do so. Without such clarification, the Obama administration has taken great liberty in crafting guidance that through ambiguous and ill-defined terms allows EPA to claim that any water body is a 'water of the U.S.,'" McDonald added.
Overall, however, ag and waterways groups were in support of the bill passage.
"The Senate's passage of the Water Resources Development Act is a huge step toward getting new locks and dams on our vital waterways transportation systems," noted Illinois Corn Growers Association President Paul Taylor. The group's members have in recent years experienced infrastructure issues on the Illinois and Upper Mississippi Rivers.
American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy also signaled support.
"While ASA supports additional measures not included in S. 601 to increase revenues for the IWTF and establish alternative financing mechanisms in order to provide more money to address inland waterways infrastructure projects, we appreciate the significant progress that is made by S. 601."
The bill will now move to the House.