Ag alarmed over dangers in omnibus water bill

Ag Groups Warn Senators on Overreaching Cardin Bay Bill
National Association of Wheat Growers

Forty major agricultural groups including NAWG wrote all Senators this week strongly urging them to oppose any effort to insert language from Sen. Ben Cardin’s (D-Md.) Chesapeake Bay bill, S. 1816, into other legislation in the lame duck session. In recent days, the groups have learned the bill could be attached to “must pass” legislation or an omnibus water bill that brings together several non-regulatory and non-controversial water-related measures.

In a letter, they urged Senators against going along with this tactic and outlined their extensive concerns with the bill’s requirements and its regulatory overreach.

Though the bill’s title may suggest it would only affect the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the groups emphasized to Senators that the Cardin bill would have national implications, the scope of which represent some of the most fundamental amendments to the Clean Water Act since it was approved in 1972.

They told Senators S. 1816 would set a major legislative precedent in federal environmental law, taking the authority and control granted to states and local governments under the Clean Water Act and vesting it in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). By doing so, it could extensively expand currently recognized citizen lawsuit provisions under the Clean Water Act.

Calling this proposal a “breathtaking expansion of federal regulatory control”, they urged complete consideration of the bill and its alternatives.

“This is not a bill with implications just for the Chesapeake Bay watershed; its measures would have far reaching consequences for the entire U.S.,” the groups wrote. “As such, [it] merits the full and serious consideration that the Senate would normally give to measures of such importance.”

NAWG and NAWG-affiliated state wheat associations in Chesapeake Bay watershed states are strongly opposed to the Cardin legislation and have been working together and with other agricultural representatives to advocate against it and propose other possible solutions for the Chesapeake Bay.

NAWG is supportive of a measure introduced by Reps. Tim Holden (D-Pa.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and passed by the House Agriculture Committee, H.R. 5509, which would restructure on-going efforts to restore the Chesapeake and would set up an independent advisory committee to review past Chesapeake Bay initiatives.

To read the full letter sent this week and more on this issue, please visit

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