More than 230 members of the House of Representatives are calling on the Obama administration to withdraw its proposed rule to expand federal control under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
In a letter to the heads of the EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers, the House members say the proposed rule “aggressively expands federal authority under the CWA while bypassing Congress and creating unnecessary ambiguity”.
Iowa secretary of agriculture Bill Northey agrees that the EPA’s proposal goes far beyond the original intent of the Clean Water Act.
“The original premise of the Clean Water Act was that it was about ‘waters of the U.S.’ that were navigable—that you could put a boat in and float all times of the year,” Northey says. “Now we’re talking about waters that are connected to that, because they would have a significant influence—makes a lot of sense, except it adds a ton of area to it.
“Now we’re talking waters that are connected to waters that are connected.”
And that, Northey says, is what has many farmers and ranchers concerned.
“That gets you to the place where some almost throw up their hands and say, ‘What isn’t part of the jurisdiction’,” he says. “And that was never the intention of the Clean Water Act from the beginning to have all water in Iowa or any place else really under the jurisdiction of the Corps of Engineers or the EPA.”
EPA officials argue that the proposed rule is actually narrow in scope and simply clarifies Clean Water Act jurisdiction.