One little word can mean so much. In relation to the Clean Water Act, that word is “navigable,” and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers are trying to get rid of it. If they succeed, EPA will have the authority to regulate nearly every drop of water, and some dry land, too. With this additional authority for EPA comes a likely deluge of regulations and permitting requirements for farmers, ranchers and other landowners. This is why the American Farm Bureau Federation has launched the “Stop the Flood of Regulation” campaign.
EPA and the Corps are poised to finalize what’s known as a “guidance” document that would greatly expand EPA’s limited authority to write rules governing the protection of navigable waters. “Right now, EPA’s regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act is basically restricted to larger bodies of water and waterways that feed into those larger bodies,” explained Don Parrish, AFBF water quality specialist. “If the guidance document goes into effect, EPA officials would have the power to regulate even a roadside ditch that fills with water only after a good soaking, like Tropical Depression Debby.”
Farmers, ranchers and landowners are up in arms about the guidance document for numerous reasons. The guidance document flies in the face of Supreme Court rulings that affirmed important limitations on the federal government’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. By forcing this change through a guidance document, rather than through the appropriate rule-making regulatory process, farmers and ranchers have no formal way to tell EPA how its actions will affect how they farm and ranch, or if they will be able to do it at all, once the guidance document is in place. As part of Farm Bureau’s “Stop the Flood of Regulation” campaign, farmers and ranchers are urging their senators and representatives to pass the Preserve the Waters of the U.S. Act (S. 2245 and H.R. 4965), which would prevent EPA from using the guidance document.
They are also communicating with officials at EPA, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, USDA and anyone else in the administration who needs to hear about how devastating this guidance document could be to agriculture. “Because we’re dealing with a guidance document, rather than a proposed regulation, farmers and ranchers can’t work through traditional regulatory input channels the way they normally would, which makes getting the message to Capitol Hill and the administration through e-mails and phone calls all the more important,” said Cody Lyon, AFBF director of grassroots and advocacy. “But they’re not stopping there. Photos, videos, Facebook posts and tweets on Twitter are all a part of this effort.”
To send a message to Congress, please go to www.fbactinsider.org to view the “Stop the Flood of Regulations” resources. To share your story and concerns, use the #stoptheflood hashtag on Twitter and the campaign’s Stop the Flood of Regulation Facebook page. You can also follow StoptheFlood on Twitter. If you have any questions about the campaign, please contact Lyon at 202-406-3736 or firstname.lastname@example.org.