The EPA’s latest proposal to define which waters can be regulated by the federal government and which by state and local authorities is a vast improvement over previous efforts, Wyoming Farm Bureau President Todd Fornstrom told the Senate Subcommittee on Fisheries, Waters, and Wildlife.
Expensive professional services needed to comply with the Clean Water Act, he said, too often make it impossible for farmers to use their own land to its fullest.
“Farm Bureau cannot overstate the importance of a rule that draws clear lines of jurisdiction that farmers and ranchers can understand without needing to hire armies of consultants and lawyers,” Fornstrom told the subcommittee. “The (Clean Water Act) carries significant fines and penalties for persons who violate the Act’s prohibitions. Historically, farmers and ranchers have chosen to forfeit full use and enjoyment of their land rather than go down the onerous and expensive path of seeking CWA 404 permits. The cost to obtain a general permit can exceed tens of thousands of dollars and individual permits can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Farmers and ranchers know these costs exceed the value of their land, which leads them to simply stay out of the regulatory quagmire by forgoing the use of their land without compensation.”
Fornstrom praised the latest proposed rule for its preservation of the Clean Water Act’s partnership among federal, state and local regulators.
“The CWA requires the federal government to work hand-in-hand with states, because the federal government cannot and should not regulate every single wet feature in every community, he said. “By drawing clear lines between waters of the U.S. and waters of the state, the proposal strengthens the cooperative federalism Congress envisioned and that the Supreme Court has long recognized as fundamental to the Clean Water Act.”