A potential rule that significantly expands Clean Water Act Jurisdiction could require farmers to obtain permits necessary to continue to operate. Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke expressed concern today at a hearing of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee that the Environmental Protection Agency is overreaching its authority and negatively affecting America’s farmers. The EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are likely to propose a rule that significantly expands the definition of waters the groups intend to regulate under the CWA. Through draft guidance and from a document leaked to the press, the agency implies that nearly all water is connected and EPA has authority to regulate them as the agency would “navigable” waters, according to Dierschke, a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s board of directors. “We believe the draft rule fails to comply with important regulatory safeguards and is based on a scientific report that has not had sufficient peer review,” Dierschke said. “The impact of this broad interpretation, if rolled into federal regulation, will mean more permits, additional permit requirements and government and environmental group scrutiny of the things we do in agriculture and the threat of additional litigation against farmers and ranchers.”
The Texas Farm Bureau president said effective environmental policies balance scientific, economic, social and environmental outcomes. “Such policies create opportunity for farmers to improve net income, enhance the nation’s economic opportunities and preserve property rights while enabling farmers and ranchers to produce an abundant and affordable supply of food, fiber and energy,” Dierschke said.