Cattlemen Defend Property Rights at Senate Subcommittee Hearing
WASHINGTON - The government should not be regulating wetlands or ditches on farmers’ and ranchers’ private property under the Clean Water Act, according to Keith Kisling, a cattle rancher and wheat farmer from Burlington, Oklahoma. Kisling says recent decisions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court limit the waters subject to regulation under the Act, and the government needs to act accordingly.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water called the hearing to discuss the impact of the Supreme Court's decisions in the joint cases of Rapanos v. United States and Carabell v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on "The Waters of the United States." Kisling testified today on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG).
“The challenge for society in using private lands is to strike a sensible balance between the demands of food production and conservation of natural resources,” said Kisling. “Regulation has been allowed to proceed unlawfully and directly at odds with teachings from the leading Supreme Court cases.”
Cattlemen cite examples of government officials trying to use the Clean Water Act to regulate prairie potholes, ponds, irrigation ditches, and intermittent streams on private lands. “Not only does this create an unstable working environment for farmers and ranchers, but it’s legally unfounded,” says Jeff Eisenberg, NCBA’s director of federal lands.
“Both the overzealous government regulation and failure to provide adequate notice about the extent of authority to regulate result in serious infringement of the rights of producers to use their own property,” said Kisling.
“The government has clearly been regulating the use of private property beyond the authority conferred by the Clean Water Act,” says Eisenberg. “In its decisions in SWANCC (Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County) v. Army Corps of Engineers and Rapanos, the Supreme Court has worked to check this usurping of congressional authority by the executive branch of government.”
“Agricultural producers need assured access to their own lands to run their businesses and produce the food America eats,” said Kisling. “The regulation of isolated waters on farms and ranches goes against the Supreme Court rulings and seriously inhibits our ability to do our jobs.”