To the Editor:
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a rule that would expand its authority under the Clean Water Act. Under the proposed rule, nearly every drop of water that falls would be regulated by the federal government, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, limiting improvements to your land, farm or community. What does the rule change?
The "waters of the U.S." rule proposes a change to the definition of that term - waters of the United States. Where the Clean Water Act has previously defined those waters as those that are navigable or are significantly connected to navigable waters, the proposed rule would include smaller waters and even some dry land in the definition of "waters of the U.S." As a result, permit requirements that apply to navigable waters would also apply to ditches, small ponds and even depressions in parks, fields and pastures that are only wet when there is heavy rain.
If landowners and communities could not get permits to do things like build fences and use pesticides to control bugs and weeds - things that would be far from guaranteed - farming and ranching would be much more costly and difficult. Other landowners too would face roadblocks to things they want to do, such as build a house, control insects or plant trees.
It is clear from the language of the CWA that Congress did not intend for the law to extend federal regulations to such small, remote waters and land features. Otherwise, Congress would not have used the term "navigable."
Stand with Farm Bureau and send your message to EPA and the U.S. Corps of Engineers by Oct. 20.
Visit fbmn.org and click on "Action Alert Center" under the Public Policy tab to send a comment or American Farm Bureau's DitchTheRule.fb.org for more information on the proposed rule.
Rochelle Krusemark, president
Martin County Farm Bureau