Clean Water Act

Overreaching Federal Agencies

EPA and the Corps cannot regulate what Congress refused to legislate. Twice Congress rightfully refused to pass the Clean Water Restoration Act that would have removed the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act (CWA). Their guidance attempts to do exactly that. 

Any guidance or rulemaking that attempts to include isolated waters and ephemeral streams is a direct violation of the CWA and the Commerce Clause in Article I of the U.S. Constitution. 

This expansion would evaporate the federalism concept which is the crux of the CWA, usurping state rights. 

The EPA/Corps CWA Guidance is Unlawful

The draft Clean Water Act (CWA) guidance offers a broad interpretation of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s “significant nexus” test for determining regulatory jurisdiction over wetlands. The draft guidance expands this test in a way that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) jurisdiction over all types of waters. 

The agencies acknowledge and expect the number of bodies of water found subject to CWA jurisdiction “will increase significantly” if the guidance is finalized. In this guidance, the agencies have expanded the scope of the term “traditional navigable waters” to cover any water body that can support waterborne recreational use (i.e. float a canoe).

Farmers and ranchers could be completely prohibited from grazing cattle near a mud hole or pond, or required to obtain a permit for common, everyday activities like cleaning out a ditch. This guidance or a subsequent rulemaking would amount to one of the largest ever land-grabs by the federal government. It is also a severe infringement on Americans’ private property rights granted by the U.S. Constitution.

CWA Guidance Would Reduce Our Ability to Keep Important Waters Clean

Cattlemen rely on clean sources of water for our animals and nurture our land. In fact, cattlemen support efforts to keep our waters clean and spend a great deal of time and resources working to preserve our nation’s water resources. 

However, an expansion of jurisdiction would actually hamper the ability to maintain clean waters. Federal agencies are already struggling to handle a backlog of 15,000 to 20,000 water permit requests.

For producer permit information or to find out more information for your operation click here. (Members Only)

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