Wagner: EPA oversteps with Clean Water Act
Navigable waters: “deep and wide enough for boats and ships to travel on or through; capable of being navigated.”
Apparently that’s true for everyone but the Environmental Protection Agency. But really, should we expect anything different?
The new proposed ruling for the expanded Clean Water Act from the EPA would become the most far-reaching regulations we’ve yet seen from this ineffective regulatory agency. It’s meant to clarify what is determined as “Waters of the U.S.” In essence, almost any place that water could collect could be subject to regulation and the permitting process.
The Clean Water Act was started in 1972 as a way to curb pollution into what was determined navigable water from a single source, without a federal permit.
Many of us are familiar with the permitting process. All these processes are essentially the same. You apply based on whatever rules and regulations have been drawn up. You explain why you should be allowed a permit to complete whatever action or build whatever structure you have planned. You present your application with the proper fee, determined by the regulatory board or by law, and you wait to hear back.
Here’s the catch: There is no legal right to be allowed a permit. That’s right, even if you dot your I’s and cross your T’s and pay the fees and fill out each form in triplicate and you state sound reasons as to why your permit should be granted and have science on your side, you may be turned down. Because we all know that decisions don’t always make sense.
And you may not find out if you’ve been granted a permit or if you’ve been turned down for days, or weeks, or months — we all know how speedy the federal government works, right?
So let me try to wrap this up in a nutshell with a completely plausible scenario. Let’s say you’re a farmer that raises cattle. Cattle poop, and you want to use the natural fertilizer that you’ve been given. Let’s say that the field you want to fertilize has a low spot that collects water when it rains. Imagine now having to fill out paperwork and a permit in order to use that fertilizer near that low spot because it may collect water at some point in time?
The time, effort and expense in order to protect something that does not need protecting is ridiculous. It’s another fine example of the EPA overstepping its imaginary boundaries and attempting to regulate in areas it was never meant to regulate.
The good news? It’s not too late. The proposed rule changes are open to public comment online through July 21 at water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/CWAwaters.cfm.
Laws and regulations that expand government reach and hurt our local economies will continue to be passed unless we’re willing to stand up and protect our rights for future generations. We need to let the EPA know that they need to #DitchTheRule.
Val Wagner loves raising her four boys on the farm in Dickey County, along with her husband, Mark. Catch her blog, Wag’n Tales, at wagfarms.wordpress.com, or follow one of their cows on Twitter @Cows_Life. Contact her at email@example.com.