NCBA Statement on Failure of Clean Water Act Amendment Passage in the Senate
WASHINGTON - National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald issued the following statement on the non-passage of Amendment 868 to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) which would have prevented the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) from finalizing the Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdictional guidance document:
“Unfortunately the Senate today failed to pass an important piece of legislation, introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), which would have stopped an overreaching jurisdictional guidance by the EPA and Corps which attempts to federalize all waters. That guidance is at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and could come out in final form any day.
“It is a tragedy that those who voted against this amendment refuse to recognize the devastating effect this guidance will have on farmers and ranchers across the country. If finalized, it would be the biggest federal land-grab in history, requiring cattlemen to apply for permits to conduct everyday activity such as cleaning out a ditch.
“Congress, to date, has refused to clarify what constitutes a ‘water of the United States,’ despite the Supreme Court’s multiple calls to do so. Without such clarification, the Obama administration has taken great liberty in crafting guidance that through ambiguous and ill-defined terms allows EPA to claim that any water body is a ‘water of the U.S.’
“This administration has taken the phrase ‘what you can’t legislate, regulate’ to new heights. Their current interpretation of what constitutes a ‘water of the U.S.’ is not only incorrect based on Supreme Court precedent, but flies in the face of the CWA’s plain language. Although the Senate failed to address this extremely important issue, NCBA hopes that at some point Congress will start to do its job and clarify the jurisdictional limits to the CWA.”