You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
New EPA regs may limit landowners’ property rights
“If water can flow through your property, then you may be subject to EPA control under this rule,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas April 3, after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formally announced the Clean Water Act proposal.
An EPA document “leaked” last year references proposed new rules under the Clean Water Act that impact everything from agricultural use to navigable waters. The rules could, as written, be stretched to apply to puddles, if they were to be deemed wetlands as described in the new rules (see “Ag producers make waves over mud puddles,” March 5).
Acting as a “big brother,” the EPA -- ostensibly to protect the nation’s water resources -- could dictate what landowners can or cannot do on their own private property, if the rules are implemented. Part of the rules -- governing agricultural practices -- already apply, as of March 25.
Some of the language relates to 56 “normal” farming practices, such as fencing, mulching, prescribed burning, and forage harvest management. These “will not be subject to Section 404 dredged or fill permitting requirements,” according to the proposal -- if the property is listed with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. However, if a landowner completes the conservation practice or changes the use of the land, the exemption with the EPA is lost, and the landowner must then comply with the new rules. The EPA, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will implement the rules, once they’re approved.
“Under this rule virtually every farmer, rancher, and homeowner in the United States may have to seek federal Clean Water permits to do anything on their land,” Stockman said.
To counter the proposed EPA power grab, Stockman introduced appropriation language that would block “any funding to study, advance, or implement the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed redefinition of ‘waters of the United States.’”
The proposed changes in the Clean Water Act surfaced when the document was sent to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review. Legislators and organizations voiced their concerns soon afterward.
The proposed 111,000-word report was posted in the April 21 Federal Register. The comment period ends July 21. The topic of discussion includes the definition of terms such as “other waters” and “neighboring.”
According to a press release, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers believe the proposed rule will “clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources.”
No change to the exclusion for waste treatment systems or prior converted cropland is being proposed.
The EPA and Army Corps want to clarify the protection of drinking water from public systems that supply approximately 117 million people who rely in part on streams for water. This number equals one in three Americans.
The proposed rules are open for public comment, but “the interpretive rule for agricultural activities is effective immediately,” according to the EPA. For the list of the 56 farming practices exempted at present, visit
Stockman addresses the role the Natural Resources Conservation Service has regarding the conservation practices considered “normal farming” under the Clean Water Act.
“Once the landowner completes the conservation practice or changes the use of his land, he loses his EPA exemption and must now comply with a new, and more complex, set of rules,” Stockman said.
According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Water Quality Policy -- Environmental Evaluation Series, the conservation service does not make Clean Water Act determinations; only the Army Corps and the EPA do.
Stockman is not the only congressman to voice opposition to the plan. U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and 14 other senators, including Texas Sen. John Cornyn, wrote EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to voice concerns about the changes, asking for an extended comment period from 90 days to 180 days (allowed by the law).
This group also cited a report, “Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence,” that is not complete.
“For EPA to propose a rule without the supposed foundational scientific document firmly in place both violates the spirit of the Administrative Procedures Act as well as OMB [Office of Management and Budget] and agency circulars,” the senators wrote.
According to the EPA, “the rule will not be finalized until the final version of this scientific assessment is complete.”
Also voicing opposition is the American Farm Bureau Federation. Watch for more on the Clean Water Act proposals in a future issue of this newspaper.
For more, visit http://www2.epa.gov/uswaters.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Section A: General News Archives
American Legion ceremony (May 25, 2016)
Annexation for fire services will be on November ballot (May 25, 2016)
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts to honor fallen heroes (May 25, 2016)
Camino Real plans Open House events (May 25, 2016)
Chief Hull resigns from Poth police (May 25, 2016)
County sets sights on new tax (May 25, 2016)
Court Update (May 25, 2016)
Editorial: Grim choices have put America in a grave situation (May 25, 2016)
Editorial: On the other side of politics in a world of digital divide (May 25, 2016)
Fire, EMS services — Who’s got you covered? (May 25, 2016)
It’s okay to take control (May 25, 2016)
Letter: Free ride over hard work … a no-brainer! (May 25, 2016)
Letter: Housing Foundation expresses gratitude (May 25, 2016)
Letter: Mainstream media ‘brainwashing’ Hispanic/Latino voters (May 25, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Wilson County Memorial Hospital District (May 25, 2016)
Memorial Day office closures (May 25, 2016)
One viewpoint: Making Floresville marketable with recreational facilities (May 25, 2016)
Parish plans Cemetery Ceremony (May 25, 2016)
Police arrest man in case of burned body (May 25, 2016)
Police Blotter (May 25, 2016)
Police ticket six for violating cell phone ban (May 25, 2016)
Post 539 service (May 25, 2016)
Poth electric vehicle users could be in for a shock (May 25, 2016)
Poth High School students earn awards (May 25, 2016)
Severe storms shred Wilson County (May 25, 2016)
SSCA ceremony (May 25, 2016)
Teacher salaries, student lunch prices on the rise (May 25, 2016)
Tejano music to fill the air during Labor Day event (May 25, 2016)
Turner: New businesses coming to Floresville (May 25, 2016)
Berger earns Ph.D. from Columbia University (May 18, 2016)
Brahma Happenings (May 18, 2016)
Burning body spurs murder investigation (May 18, 2016)
Can I negotiate? (May 18, 2016)
Court Update (May 18, 2016)
Editorial: Narrow views promote intellectual, moral dry rot (May 18, 2016)
Editorial: The political climate in America goes from bad to worse (May 18, 2016)
Falls City ISD’s new K-12 building almost complete (May 18, 2016)
Floresville parks master plan would relocate ball fields (May 18, 2016)
Floresville parks plan wins council approval (May 18, 2016)
Foundation awards $9K in grants (May 18, 2016)
Foundation opens health grant process (May 18, 2016)
Graco recalls booster seats (May 18, 2016)
Grass fires on the rise (May 18, 2016)
Letter: An open letter to Congress (May 18, 2016)
Letter: Illegal immigration: Who will laugh last? (May 18, 2016)
Letter: What Hispanic vote? (May 18, 2016)
Lone Star Greys to meet (May 18, 2016)
Meeting Watch: La Vernia City Council (May 18, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Poth ISD (May 18, 2016)
Police Blotter (May 18, 2016)
Police recover one of two stolen trucks (May 18, 2016)
Register for free watercolor lesson (May 18, 2016)
Stockdale campus to get upgrade soon (May 18, 2016)
Stockdale City Council approves electronic payment processing (May 18, 2016)
TAMU-SA matches student scholarships (May 18, 2016)
Time to make plans to attend Jubilee (May 18, 2016)
Want fire protection? Attend May 19 hearing (May 18, 2016)
Acme Gold Buyers marks fifth year in Floresville (May 11, 2016)
All Veterans Job Fair (May 11, 2016)
Cemetery group to meet (May 11, 2016)
Children’s Alliance enhances care services (May 11, 2016)
China Grove mayor, police chief trade barbs at meeting (May 11, 2016)
Commissioners lukewarm toward hot coffee at library (May 11, 2016)
Competency and integrity (May 11, 2016)
Court Update (May 11, 2016)
Coy to get Ranger Cross (May 11, 2016)
Cub Scout Roundup (May 11, 2016)
Donate blood in May (May 11, 2016)
Editor: Trump’s candidacy sets in motion affliction in future elections (May 11, 2016)
Editorial: The voters have spoken — well, some of them have! (May 11, 2016)
Former Sutherland Springs VFD considered as a substation (May 11, 2016)
Free caregivers class starts May 26 (May 11, 2016)
Information sought in Walmart theft (May 11, 2016)
Lack of super majority vote keeps Clean Water Rule flowing (May 11, 2016)
Leetter: The government is a terrible investor (May 11, 2016)
Letter: Injection well site is near river, creeks (May 11, 2016)
Letter: Stop being negative (May 11, 2016)
LV youths win new wheels at Bike Rodeo (May 11, 2016)
Meeting Watch: La Vernia ISD (May 11, 2016)
Mineral rights workshop set (May 11, 2016)
Miss LV Pageant, Bluebonnet Parade, graduation fill La Vernia calendar (May 11, 2016)
New Wilson County justice center nears completion (May 11, 2016)
Personalized brick for Veterans Memorial (May 11, 2016)
Police Blotter (May 11, 2016)
Precinct 3 primary runoff is May 24 (May 11, 2016)
Rangers to honor Lorenz (May 11, 2016)
Rohrs takes over Floresville athletics (May 11, 2016)
Tanneberger qualifies for Executive Club membership (May 11, 2016)
Voters respond: One bond passes, another fails (May 11, 2016)
Wednesday morning crash injures nine (May 11, 2016)
AACOG plans public meeting (May 4, 2016)
Accident injures two drivers (May 4, 2016)
AgriLife offers tips to protect from Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (May 4, 2016)
Behind the lens: Solitary stillness (May 4, 2016)
Celebration Mass June 12 (May 4, 2016)
Cemetery association meeting (May 4, 2016)
Condos are fine, but do your research (May 4, 2016)
Court Update (May 4, 2016)
Crime Stoppers aids police anonymously (May 4, 2016)
DA, DPS bust nets 86 charges (May 4, 2016)
Debate over citizens comments dominates Floresville council (May 4, 2016)
Dwellings At Home offers lodge, ranch furnishings, more (May 4, 2016)
Editorial: Overbearing city council threatens boards’ independence (May 4, 2016)
Editorial: Taking personal responsibility will bring possibilities (May 4, 2016)
Editorial: Trump is the same old song with one more verse (May 4, 2016)
FEDC tables recommendation of master parks plan (May 4, 2016)
FELPS tornado repair continues as FEMA help stalls (May 4, 2016)
Floresville Chamber Luncheon May 18 (May 4, 2016)
Hall of Fame inductees: Joe Kotwig, Malcolm and Beverly Talley (May 4, 2016)
Letter: Alamo Colleges: A bust for Floresville (May 4, 2016)
Local nursing homes plan Senior Olympics May 9-13 (May 4, 2016)
Look twice for motorcycle riders (May 4, 2016)
Lyssy’s vault earns gold, sets records! (May 4, 2016)
Medicaid, CHIP application assistance (May 4, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Wilson County Commissioners Court (May 4, 2016)
National Day of Prayer May 5 (May 4, 2016)
Police Blotter (May 4, 2016)
Ramirez promoted to colonel (May 4, 2016)
Reserve a seat for SA Tea Party (May 4, 2016)
Tanneberger tops in sales (May 4, 2016)
Treviño prepares to take reins of East Central athletics (May 4, 2016)