McCarthy, Vilsack pressed on Clean Water Act

Published online: May 15, 2014
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South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem is one of a number of federal lawmakers asking EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to stop the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule under the Clean Water Act.

She tells reporters, “Having so many members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, unified on this issue will hopefully get the EPA to back off.”

At a hearing before the Senate Ag Committee last week, North Dakota Senator John Hoeven asked Ag Secretary Vilsack for more assurances about waters that are connected with navigable or interstate waterways as spelled out in the rule.

“This concept of ‘significant nexus’ I don’t agree with and I think is absolutely going down the wrong road. What assurances can you give me that this is not a big-time problem for our farmers and our ranchers?”

Vilsack replied that the Clean Water Act “clearly” states that normal farming practices are not going to be impacted. Vilsack added, that among the 56 conservation practices allowed, there is room for others to be added, “As folks confront challenges I would fully expect that that list is going to continue to grow. And, that list basically does provide farmers and ranchers a great deal more certainty than they had before because they can now be assured that whatever they’re doing that is on that list they don’t have to notify anybody. They don’t have to ask permission.”

Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns says he is cosponsoring an amendment with Senator Barrasso of Wyoming to stop the rule, which is still open for public comment. And, Johanns says he has pressed McCarthy on the rule at a recent Appropriations Committee hearing.