Senators hope to stop expansion of Clean Water Act jurisdiction

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2012 -Senate Republicans were expected to offer legislation Wednesday to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from moving forward with its guidance document on Clean Water Act jurisdiction. GOP Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, a frequent critic of the Obama EPA, and Dean Heller of Nevada planned to introduce the bill, a source told Agri-Pulse. Many farm and commodity groups intend to express support for the legislation.

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Last April, EPA released draft regulatory guidance to clarify protection of waters under the CWA. Agricultural interests criticized the proposal as a road map to expand CWA jurisdiction to nearly all water bodies and even some dry land. EPA submitted final guidance to the White House Office of Management and Budget for federal interagency review last month.

The agency says the final document focuses on protecting smaller waters that feed into larger ones, to keep downstream water safe from upstream pollutants. But EPA insists the guidance does not extend federal protection to any waters not historically protected under the CWA.

EPA adds that the final guidance will also maintain all of the existing exemptions for agricultural discharges and waters, and also identify specific types of water bodies to which it does not apply - areas like artificial lakes and ponds, and many types of drainage and irrigation ditches. But ag industry sources who've seen it say it mirrors the draft guidance.


Original story printed in March 28, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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