EPA Proposes Expanding Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

EPA Proposes Expanding Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

Last week Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Corp of Army Engineers proposed an expansion of the federal authority over the water of the United States. Under this expansion, essentially all waters in the country would be subject to regulation by the EPA and the Corps, regardless of size or continuity of flow. And it is the continuity of flow that concerns ag groups like National Cattlemen's Beef Association. So streams that have a seasonal flow could now be considered as waters of the United States as well as wetlands near rivers and streams.

NCBA Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald discuss the potential impact of this proposed expansion.

McDonald: "So we're looking at defining pastures as wetlands and everything in a flood plain as waters of the United States."

McDonald adds that it is taking Clean Water Act enforcement out of states' hands and moving it to the federal level.

McDonald: "The Supreme Court has said that it has to have a significant nexus to navigable waters to be jurisdictional. Of course here the EPA has basically said that everything has a nexus and everything is going to be jurisdictional which clearly shows they believe there is no limit to federal jurisdiction. It also upsets the federalism principle that underpins the Clean Water Act itself. The states are suppose to be the primary enforcers and implementers of the Clean Water Act. This takes all authority away from the states and makes all waters federal and therefore puts it under federal jurisdiction."

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