A broad coalition including the American Farm Bureau Federation sent a letter to House members recently urging them to oppose an amendment to the Interior appropriations bill that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing Clean Water Act policy guidance issued in 2003.
"If the amendment were to pass, isolated non-navigable waters such as small erosion impressions in fields could be included in oversight of the Clean Water Act," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "Wet spots in farm fields were never intended to be put under such scrutiny or farmers burdened with unnecessary CWA regulations." The coalition letter notes that the Supreme Court limited federal jurisdiction over isolated, intrastate and non-navigable waters in 2003 in its ruling of the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The amendment expected to be proposed to the appropriations bill would cause confusion and raise further questions about the CWA's regulatory reach."The amendment would undermine the Supreme Court decision and be highly counterproductive. It would ultimately result in confusion at state and local levels about land and water issues," Stallman said.
The EPA in 2003 issued guidance to comply with the court ruling, and the guidance has served the environment and rural areas appropriately. Moreover, there are currently two cases pending within the court system that will address the scope of the 2003 case.