Strong reaction against Obama plan to regulate waters at farms

Staff Reports Posted 27 May 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – This field on Brown Road in the Town of Gaines was saturated with water after a lot of rain last July 28, 2014.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Farm Bureau Federation and Congressman Chris Collins are among the many to react strongly against an announcement today by President Barack Obama for clean water regulations.

The president, despite opposition from Farm Bureau, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many Republicans in Congress, announced he would use executive authority to impose a rule known as “Waters of the United States.”

The federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers jointly proposed the rule. Farm groups say the rule could result in higher new costs and burdens, forcing farmers to pay for environmental assessments and to obtain permits to till the soil near gullies, ditches or dry streambeds where water flows only when it rains, The New York Times reported.

A federal government will require a permit for any activity, such as farming or construction, that creates a discharge into a body of water covered under the Clean Water Act or affects the health of it, like filling in a wetland or blocking a stream, according to The New York Times.

Congressman Chris Collins (R-Clarence) issued the following statement after the Obama Administration finalized its Clean Water Act Waters of the United States Rule.

“The Obama Administration’s ruling today is a continuation of their regulatory assault on our nation’s farmers. The EPA’s overreach is causing real harm for local farmers and stalling business development. When I visit with local farmers, the heavy burdens under the Clean Water Act come up each and every time. When the bureaucrats at the EPA decide to call a divot in the ground that fills with rain a ‘navigable waterway’ under the CWA, we know our federal government has run amuck. I will continue to do all I can to fight this burdensome and business crushing ruling.”

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, issued this statement today:

“We are undertaking a thorough analysis of the final WOTUS rule to determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency listened to the substantive comments farmers and ranchers submitted during the comment period. Based on EPA’s aggressive advocacy campaign in support of its original proposed rule – and the agency’s numerous misstatements about the content and impact of that proposal – we find little comfort in the agency’s assurances that our concerns have been addressed in any meaningful way.

“The process used to produce this rule was flawed. The EPA’s proposal transgressed clear legal boundaries set for it by Congress and the Courts and dealt more with regulating land use than protecting our nation’s valuable water resources. EPA’s decision to mount an aggressive advocacy campaign during the comment period has tainted what should have been an open and thoughtful deliberative process. While we know that farmers and ranchers were dedicated to calling for substantial changes to the rule, we have serious concerns about whether their comments were given full consideration.

“We expect to complete our review in the next few days. We are looking in particular at how the rule treats so-called ephemeral streams, ditches, small ponds and isolated wetlands. We will decide on an appropriate course of action once that review is complete.”