WV Farm Bureau Magazine July 2015 - Page 7

American Farm Bureau Federation Joins in Lawsuit to Stop EPA Redefinition of ‘Waters of US’ The American Farm Bureau Federation, Texas Farm others whose livelihoods depend on their ability to work Bureau, Matagorda County Farm Bureau, and 11 other the land.” agricultural and industry groups have asked a federal According to the AFBF complaint, “the Agencies court to vacate the controversial new rule redefining are determined to exert jurisdiction over a staggering the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water range of dry land and water features – whether large Act. The complaint, filed in federal district court in or small, permanent, intermittent or ephemeral, Texas, claims the new rule grants EPA and the U.S. flowing or stagnant, natural or manmade, interstate or Army Corps of Engineers broad control over land use intrastate.” The “opaque and unwieldy” rule “leaves far beyond what Congress authorized in the Clean Water the identification of jurisdictional waters so vague Act. The lawsuit also claims and uncertain that Plaintiffs “EPA water vagueness and over-breadth and their members cannot of the rule violate the U.S. determine whether and when regulations must Constitution. The groups also the most basic activities protect water quality undertaken on their land will challenged EPA’s aggressive grassroots advocacy campaign without bulldozing subject them to drastic criminal during the comment period, and civil penalties under the the rights of farmers which reflected a closed mind (Clean Water Act).” to concerns expressed by and others whose farmers and others. The AFBF lawsuit follows livelihoods depend four similar suits filed by EPA and the Corps first officials representing 27 states, on their ability to proposed the rule in March all within two days of the rule’s work the land.” 2014, promising clarity and publication on June 29. A group certainty to farmers, ranchers, of nine states – West Virginia, builders and other affected Georgia, Alabama, Florida, businesses and landowners. “Instead we have a final rule Kansas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin that exceeds the agencies’ legal authority and fails to – has asked a federal district court in Georgia for a provide the clarity that was promised,” AFBF General preliminary injunction to stop implementation of the Counsel Ellen Steen said. “AFBF filed this lawsuit to do rule while the lawsuit is resolved. Ohio and Michigan everything we can to protect the interests of farmers and have a separate suit in Ohio also seeking preliminary ranchers, but litigation is not a quick or perfect fix. It is relief. “We appreciate the leadership and dedication of long, cumbersome and expensive, and it leaves farmers all the states that have challenged the rule, and we fully and others facing immediate harm and uncertainty under support their efforts,” Steen said. this rule.” AFBF’s co-plaintiffs are the American Petroleum While AFBF and others turn to the courts, a bill Institute, American Road and Transportation Builders, currently before the Senate, if passed, would require Leading Builders of America, National Alliance of EPA and the Corps to abandon the rule and conduct Forest Owners, National Association of Home Builders, a new rulemaking. “Lawsuit or no lawsuit, we need National Association of Manufacturers, National Congress to act,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Corn Growers “We need legislation that requires an honest rulemaking Association, National Mining Association, National from EPA. EPA water regulations must protect water Pork Producers Council and Public Lands Council. quality without bulldozing the rights of farmers and West Virginia Farm Bureau News 7