Farmers and ranchers would face burdensome federal regulatory control if provisions of a restrictive Senate water bill make it through the “lame duck” session of Congress, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
AFBF and a coalition of other groups are vowing to oppose any effort to attach the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act(S. 1816) to any bill that might be addressed during the lame duck session.
“While carrying a title that suggests it is limited in scope, provisions of this bill would have drastic negative impacts on agriculture,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “The bill makes sweeping changes to the Clean Water Actand sets adverse water policy precedents that would impact watersheds throughout the nation.”
According to Stallman, the bill strips state and local governments within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed of their authority under the Clean Water Act and grants it instead to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Bigger federal government and expanded federal authority is not in the best interest of our nation,” Stallman said. “By granting EPA the authority to issue what are called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) without allowing states the opportunity to address water issues, this bill would give EPA greater control over land-use decisions that should be made at the local level.”
According to a letter sent to the full Senate by Farm Bureau and the other groups, S. 1816 “is not a regional bill with only local consequences and only benign effects for the rest of the country.”
“S. 1816 does not authorize a program to improve water quality through collaboration, technical assistance, and/or funding,” the letter stated. “Instead, S. 1816 would set a major legislative precedent in federal environmental law, taking the authority and control granted to states and local governments under the Clean Water Act and instead vest it in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — a step never before taken in the 38-year history of the law.
“Additionally, by subjecting a wide range of traditionally local and state activities to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, S. 1816 automatically grants citizen lawsuit privileges to environmental activists to stymie lawful economic activity and ensnare landowners and state and local governments in expensive, protracted litigation.”