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Agriculture Today

EPA eyes private water use

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May 11, 2011 | 3,071 views | Post a comment

FORT WORTH -- The Obama administration issued guidance documents April 27 that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers to regulate private bodies of water.

This guidance reverses the U.S. Supreme Court decisions and circumvents the lawmaking process as intended by U.S. Congress and the U.S. Constitution. In 2010, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) and other industry organizations worked to defeat a bill in Congress that would have given the EPA this authority.

“This debate has already happened in Congress. TSCRA worked closely with other agriculture organizations to stop this sweeping regulation and kept it from becoming law,” said Joe Parker Jr., rancher and president of TSCRA. “Now, the Administration has completely disregarded that, and instead, has taken a backdoor approach so it can further regulate the private property of landowners.”

The Clean Water Jurisdiction Guidance would negatively affect ranchers by giving the federal government unprecedented regulatory authority over water bodies such as stock tanks, drainage ditches, ponds, small and intermittent streams, creek beds, playa lakes, and mud holes. Additionally, it could ultimately require ranchers to obtain federal permits and would allow the federal government to come on private property for inspections. The permits and enforcement would make it necessary for ranchers to hire engineers and attorneys to guide them through the permitting process and defend themselves against unnecessary federal regulation. A 60-day comment period will begin as soon as the draft guidance is published in the Federal Register. TSCRA will submit comments on behalf of the more than 15,000 cattle raisers it represents.

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