Farmers, industry getting pretty nervous about the EPA’s incoming water regs
posted at 1:21 pm on March 12, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
The Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama hasn’t exactly developed a reputation for even-handedness or self-restraint. Those zealous bureaucrats have regularly employed their full arsenal of administrative techniques — ranging anywhere from the obscurest under-the-radar rulemaking to aggressive regulatory overhauls — to widen the scope of their already invasive authority, and the EPA is not the least bit shy about spending taxpayer resources to get hyper-combative about it.
One particular source of several such showdowns with private citizens and businesses who have dared to challenge their power grabs has been the Clean Water Act. It was originally designed to grant the EPA regulatory authority over bodies of water with a “significant nexus” to the “navigable waters” of the United States — which was at first generally understood to mean waters that functioned in major commercial purposes, but over time, the EPA has been steadily pushing the parameters of that vague definition. There have already been several major Supreme-Court level lawsuits on the issue in recent years, and last fall, the EPA announced that they intended to write more explicit rules to hammer out their precise aquatic jurisdiction.
Given the Obama EPA’s utter lack of regulatory restraint I already mentioned, that has a lot of people very nervous. Via the NYT:
Mr. Lemeke is a former Iowa state government official who supervised water quality programs. He is also a fifth-generation farmer who grows corn and soybeans on his acreage, about 75 miles north of Des Moines, and he has never worried that the government would be concerned about that small ditch.
But that may soon change.
The Environmental Protection Agency is set to issue regulations that farmers like Mr. Lemeke say may require them to get permits for work for which they have long been exempt. The E.P.A. says the new rules are needed to clarify which bodies of water it must oversee under the federal Clean Water Act, an issue of jurisdiction that the agency says has been muddled by recent court rulings. …
There is no timetable for when the rules will be released. But if the agency expands its jurisdiction over streams like the one on Mr. Lemeke’s farm, he and other farmers say, the move could prove costly by requiring farmers to pay fees for environmental assessments and to get permits just to till the soil near gullies, ditches or dry streambeds where water only flows when it rains. …
In a letter last month to the White House and members of Congress, the coalition said the agency’s decision to move forward on the new rules failed to comply with regulatory requirements and relied on a flawed economic analysis concerning its effect on industry. The groups also said the scientific report the agency and the Corp of Engineers relied on to justify the new rules had not been reviewed by other scientists.
The EPA, relying on economic reports that understate the costs of their regulations and scientific reports that shun outside review? Well, I never!