Conservation Practices Threatened
I'm Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.
Yakima cattle rancher Jack Field testified on the impacts of the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' proposed expanded definition of "waters of the United States" at a recent U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business hearing. During his testimony Field spoke about why he and other producers are asking the agencies to withdraw the Interpretive Rule.
FIELD: Instead of improving water quality, it is my belief and the belief of both WCA and the NCBA that this proposal will decrease water quality by discouraging conservation. I recently completed a voluntary project - I've installed a fence that creates a riparian pasture so I can manage grazing that occurs within the riparian area, which also protects water quality. If this proposal and the interpretive rule were in force when I started this project I would not have completed it, due to the significant legal liability the proposal created. If I implemented a conservation practice that is not this prescriptive list of 56 NRCS practices outlined as part of the interpretive rule, I could fall outside of the exemption and be subject to a 404 dredge and fill program.
Field went on to say that in addition to legal liability created by the proposal, the cost of implementing conservation practices under the interpretive rule would be astronomical for small producers.
FIELD: I couldn't afford to be at risk of being in violation of the Clean Water Act with violations and fines that could add up to $37,000 per day, and the risk of potential criminal sanctions. I want to do my part for the environment, but I can't if it would jeopardize my entire operation.
For help on submitting comments to the EPA on the proposed expanded definition of "waters of the United States" go to www.beefusa.org.
That's Washington Ag Today.
I'm Lacy Gray on the Ag Information Network.