President’s Order Restores Western Water Supplies

Farm Bureau, CA Farm Water Coalition, Family Farm Alliance and Western Growers Support Order

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

Last week, President Trump provided welcome relief to Western farmers, cities, rural communities and wildlife refuges that have struggled under water supply rules that are long overdue for an update. Prioritizing national interest and the value of California food production, the president’s order requires the re-consultation of the biological opinions to be completed and fully implemented by August 2019.

The deadline will bring to a close the review of rules governing the long-term operation of the federal Central Valley Project and California State Water Project. The review has been underway since August 2016, a process the order requires to be concluded by Aug. 31, 2019.

The president’s action fulfills his campaign commitment to help solve the state’s water supply shortages and will greatly benefit Central Valley communities and the environment. Since 1992, water supply restrictions have caused severe economic consequences for farms and the people who depend on them for work. Many of the state’s most disadvantaged communities have suffered due to scarce water supplies.temperance flat dam

Wildlife refuges that are a critical component of the Pacific Flyway have had insufficient water to meet the needs of millions of ducks, geese, shorebirds, songbirds and endangered animals in large parts of the Central Valley and the Klamath Basin. An ongoing review of the rules governing these critical water supplies only delays the ability of these important areas to recover.

This action will also help address water shortages that have occurred across the West as the result of federal regulations overseen by multiple agencies. It offers hope to farmers and ranchers served by federal water projects in the Pacific Northwest, including the Columbia Basin and the Klamath Basin. The president’s order places the responsibility of operating the federal water projects with the Department of the Interior, to be supported by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The action prohibits any impacts to threatened or endangered species protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

This issue has been scrutinized by the Executive Branch as far back as 2011. At that time, President Obama observed that the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in freshwater, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. Those overlapping jurisdictions have only slowed efforts to help the fish.

A committee convened by the National Research Council also studied this matter a few years ago. The NRC found that the lack of a systematic, well-framed overall analysis between the two services is “a serious scientific deficiency, and it likely is related to the ESA’s practical limitations as to the scope of actions that can or must be considered in a single biological opinion.”

Improved coordination between federal agencies will promote more efficient, effective and coordinated management of all ESA responsibilities for anadromous and freshwater fish in Western watersheds, from the highest reaches of our headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.

“This action is an important and common-sense move that will benefit Western farmers and ranchers whose livelihoods depend on federal water projects,” said Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance. “It’s a practical and assertive change to Western water management and species recovery that our membership strongly supports.”

California’s GOP congressional delegation from the Central Valley played an important role in identifying the problems in the state’s water system and worked closely with the Trump administration to produce a solution that is consistent with federal law and will improve the water delivery system.

“There’s no question that the Central Valley has lagged behind the economic recovery experienced in other parts of the state. We’re optimistic that these changes will not only help improve water supplies for farms, farm-related businesses, and disadvantaged rural communities, they will provide the incentive to put science-based solutions to work to help recover iconic native fish species that have suffered under the existing regulatory approach,” said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition.

“This is a common-sense improvement to a process that has been abused in the past by regulatory agencies seeking to impose a scientifically-unsound regime on water users that ultimately, by design, de-irrigates some of the highest quality farmland in the world. This move by the Administration simply ensures that the process of revising the rules governing Delta water operations will be less vulnerable to regulatory abuse,” said Tom Nassif, president of the Western Growers Association.

“Implementation of the Endangered Species Act can be better for both species and people, and the president’s action moves us in that direction,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said. “It’s time to grow beyond the culture of conflict that has governed California water for too long. We need streamlined solutions that benefit species and that benefit both the farmers who provide California-grown food and farm products and everyone who depends on those products.”

2021-05-12T11:05:09-07:00October 26th, 2018|

Agriculture Grads in High Demand

Many Grads are Interested in Day-to-Day Farming

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

There is a big demand for college graduates with agricultural degrees, especially in plant and crop sciences. California Ag Today spoke with Shannon Douglass, first vice president of the California Farm Bureau Federation and a recruiter for CalAJobs, about the need for agriculture grads.

CalAgJobs

Shannon Douglass, First VP of California Farm Bureau Federation and recruiter for CalAgJobs

“I often encourage people to minor in crop science,” Douglas said.

If you are a business major, having some background in crop science is beneficial. As a farm manager, understanding the crops are going to be vital.

“I encouraged animal science majors to think about getting a minor in crop science to understand what we are feeding those animals that they are studying, because that is a huge piece of California agriculture,” Douglass said.

Everything from agronomy and soil science to irrigation and pest control management are vital. Many college graduates are interested in being involved in the day-to-day farming operation.

“I talked to a class at Chico State a couple of weeks ago, and there are a lot of young people that they really want to be in the farming,” Douglass said.

Many students do not want to be in sales, but a large majority would like to be the farmers themselves.

“I really encourage them that you can absolutely be a day-to-day farmer and not necessarily a farm owner,” she said.

Douglass is also a recruiter for CalAgJobs.

“It is a private company, and we work with internships as a grant-funded project. In fact, it is completely free for both the employer and the student to use,” she explained.

These internships are a tool in helping to get those that are in college to look at these ag careers, particularly in specialty crops and crop science overall. Internships can be a wonderful gateway into long-term careers.

“The second part of our website is a classified type job-posting service,” she said.

CalAgJobs uses social media and targeting along with a weekly email.

“Another part of our business is the recruitment services that we offer. We work with employers who need more help on some of these really tough to fill jobs,” Douglass said.

CalAgJobs does their best to help fill those employment opportunities to help others run their farms.

For more information on internships or job postings, visit CalAgJobs.com.

2018-06-27T16:27:37-07:00June 27th, 2018|

California Agriculture’s Future in the Hands of New Tariffs

There Is Worry that Some Companies May Lose Ground on Exports to China

By Mikenzie Meyers, Associate Editor

California growers are on edge due to newly imposed tariffs that could cause the state’s agriculture to suffer. After China recently retaliated against the United States’s steel and aluminum tariff by pushing its own on U.S. imports, they have good reason to be worried. California Ag Today recently spoke to Shannon Douglass, first vice president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, who is heavily involved in this conversation.tariffs

“No matter what you’re growing, so much of our products are exported, and so it’s a really vital concern to many of our farmers,” Douglass said.

She explained that it isn’t just a concern for those involved with fresh produce—which might be the first affected—but also any farmer who depends on sales to foreign markets.

One of the biggest concerns is losing the progress made in growing the foreign market, but Douglass seemed hopeful as CFBF has continued working with those driving legislation,

“We certainly don’t want to lose that ground that we worked so hard to develop,” she said.

Agriculture has always been a winner in the trade arena, and although the climate of foreign markets may be uneasy, Douglass and the California Farm Bureau Federation are continuing the conversation to make progress toward a hopeful future for all farmers.

2018-06-26T14:41:07-07:00June 26th, 2018|

Chinese Customers Hurt with Increased Tariff

Not Just California Farmers Hurt with Added Trade Tariff

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The extra tariff that China is putting on California agricultural products is an added frustration for the customers in China, said Jamie Johansson, President of the California Farm Bureau Federation.

“It’s not just the extra 15 percent being levied by that country. But for our nut crops and wine guys, we already have 15 or 20 percent tariffs,” Johansson explained. “This is nothing new to us in California. California agricultural products excel in the Pacific Rim. We know we can compete with anyone in a global market. We know that no one’s better than the California farmer in terms of serving the Pacific Rim nations, and no one can get their product to the market faster in those Asian countries than California.”

Jamie Johansson, CFBF

Customers are affected the most when tariffs are implemented.

“I say when we have these trade talks and trade negotiations—and even now China [is] threatening the trade tariffs or has current tariffs on California products—it isn’t just the farmers that suffer,” Johansson said.

“We need to remind China that it is their consumers who are demanding our quality milk, our cheeses, our wine, pistachios, and almonds as well. Their consumers will suffer just like the California farmer. And we need to remind them of that because we only sell to the countries with consumers who demand it, and that’s who decides what we grow and where we ship to,” Johansson said.

2018-05-15T15:30:20-07:00May 15th, 2018|

Agricultural Guestworker Act Won’t Help California

Proposed Legislation Long Way from What State Needs

By Joanne Lui, Associate Editor

Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s Agricultural Guestworker Act is moving forward for the full Ag Committee to consider it, but according to Paul Wenger, President of the California Farm Bureau Federation, it’s a long way from what California needs.

“They did something with the H2C proposal. It’s a long, long, long ways from what we need here in California. We’ve been very clear on that … with Kevin McCarthy’s office, being the leader of the Republicans and really our key architect for all things that go through the Legislature, and so we’re in constant contact with Congressman McCarthy,” Wenger said.

The ag leaders in California are pretty astounded that Congress is doing anything about labor.

“We’re glad we finally got something to discuss, but there’s a long ways to go,” Wenger explained. “As it’s written, as it came through the subcommittee, there’s really nothing there that would work for our employees here in California and give us the kind of flexibility that we need, but we need a vehicle to start the discussion. … Talking to Congressman [David] Valadao’s office, Jeff Denham and others on the Republican side because it’s really got to be led by the Republicans.”

“We  now need a lot more that will allow for some portability of our workforce, in order to get legal documentation for those folks that don’t have good documentation that are already here in our state working without touchback, because we know folks aren’t going to go back and stand in line for 20 years waiting for some kind of a work authorization.”

 

2017-11-07T21:47:30-08:00November 7th, 2017|

Embattled Farmer John Duarte Defends Farming in Federal Court

Farmer Must Defend Plowing His Wheat Field

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

John Duarte, a California farmer who gained national attention after the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE or Army Corps) sued him for plowing his Tehama County wheat field, will defend himself in a federal courthouse in Sacramento on Tuesday, August 15.

“Agriculture is at a very dire crossroads right now,” said Duarte, imploring all farming stakeholders and food consumers across the country “to get loud with their Senators, Representatives and USACE. And if you know how to get ahold of President Trump, give him a call.”

In February 2013, with no warning or opportunity to discuss the matter, USACE sent Duarte a cease and desist letter to suspend farming operations, claiming that he had illegally filled wetlands on his wheat field simply by plowing it.

“I am being prosecuted for planting wheat in a wheat field during a global food crisis,” Duarte said. “They’re claiming I should have pulled a [Clean Water Act] permit that nobody has ever pulled and conducted practices that nobody has ever conducted to grow wheat.”

Duarte who is also the owner of Duarte Nursery, argues that the Army Corps violated his constitutional right to due process. He said the agency came down on him hard and never gave him an opportunity to defend himself against the accusations before levying the fine. Duarte now faces $2.8 million in government fines.

“The Army Corps of Engineers is prosecuting us,” Duarte said, “and the Army Corps does not even have subject matter jurisdiction to conduct this prosecution.”

In a June 14, 2017, news release, Tony Francois, senior attorney for Pacific Legal Foundation, explained, “Prosecutors and bureaucrats are seeking to establish, for the first time, that farmers with seasonal puddles need a federal wetlands permit in order to plow their own private land—even though plowing is exempt from Clean Water Act (CWA) coverage.”

Duarte believes if he were to lose the upcoming trial, it would change the way farmers in America farm. “This battle may never be resurrected in court. Taking this battle to the Supreme Court on several fronts is the only way to give farmers the long-term security they need, the right to farm and property rights protections, to deliver food security to America.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation, the California Farm Bureau Federation, the farm bureau in Duarte’s backyard and farm bureaus across the country are behind him.

“The Butte County Farm Bureau has 1065 members,” Duarte stated, “and they donated a check for $10,650 to the Duarte Defense Fund at California Farm Bureau Federation. That’s $10 a member! Thanks to the challenge from Biggs, CA, farmer, Clark Becker (President of the Butte County Farm Bureau) that defense fund has already collected over $100,000 in support of our lawsuit. We are hoping to collect hundreds of thousands more.”

Duarte said, “Although this lawsuit for planting wheat in a wheat field has gained a lot of attention, we need more help to fight it.”

While Duarte is grateful for the political support in favor of Duarte Nursery’s position in this wetlands prosecution, he wants to settle this case before trial. “We need complete rights to appeal, and if necessary, to take it to the Supreme Court of the United States. We must protect food security as well as farmers’ right to farm.”

“My greatest nightmare is if Duarte Nursery is forced into settling this case without the right to appeal. If we cannot get such a release, American farming could be oppressed by federal agencies into the future, and there won’t be another fool to follow us and stand up to them again.”

“Any farmer can see the kind of abuse—the misstatements, the falsehoods, the misquoting of laws that the Department of Justice is using in this case against us—and the $2.5 to $3 million we’re spending to fight this battle. There won’t be another family to come along and fight like this in the future.”

2017-09-02T23:46:02-07:00August 12th, 2017|

Ag Unite Addresses Critical Ag Issues

Ag Unite Brings Stanislaus County Together

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

The Stanislaus County Farm Bureau was recently recognized with a Program of Excellence Award from the American Farm Bureau for its Ag Unite program.

One of the big goals of Ag Unite is gathering money for political action. “We raised money for political action, and we also raised money for legal defense funds because there’s a lot of lawsuits that are happening, where a lot of people have had issues with government overreaching,” said Wayne Zipser, Executive Director of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau.

Wayne Zipser

An example of government overreach is with John Duarte of Duarte Nursery in Stanislaus County. That case involves Duarte Nursery versus the Army Corps. of Engineers. The court ruled that the company violated the Clean Water Act by plowing its property, even though the Act exempts normal farming practices.

“We’re looking to raise money for that and for a variety of other things that we know that are going to come along. We know that it’s not the last thing that’s going to happen, certainly not the first. We need to get elected people in the legislature who understand. We must have people that have more of a moderate and an understanding of what agriculture is, what it’s based with, and how we can be able to survive in California,” Zipser said. “The farmers and I today field calls constantly. We’ve got some new legislation that has come along, and it’s costing them a lot of money. It’s costing them a lot of things, and they’re fed up. We need to get more involved, and that’s what Ag Unite was all about. Getting more people involved and trying to bridge everyone together, not only if you’re a farmer, but the tractor salesmen, the seed sales folks, the car dealerships, the insurance companies.”

Zipser explained that these ancillary companies are involved when agriculture is attacked.  “They, our consumers, and the very people that rely on the farmers and ranchers are attacked. [Those] who not only provide jobs, but also provide food in a safe and reliable food supply.”

Stanislaus-area farmers truly wanted to see Ag Unite happen, according to Zipser. They are pushing to get other farm bureaus to get involved and participate in events to keep the discussions going.  “Again, we only represent 1 percent of the population of the producers, so we have to speak with a loud voice,” he said.

One of the major, potentially devastating regulations for Stanislaus County farmers is the California Water Resources Control Board’s plan to take 40 percent of the water from the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers to increase flows in the Sacramento Delta for salmon.

Those who attended the meeting about the plan in December were not just farmers. They were teachers, public safety folks and the district attorney. According to Zipser, they all talked about what the potential devastation if 40 percent of the flow from the Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus rivers was diverted, and the impact to not only local economies, but even crime and school children.

“This is what unification is. It’s uniting and protecting our industry because it is our number one industry here in Stanislaus County. We have some of the biggest food processors in the world that reside right here in our county. It is vital for the health of our communities to push back and to fight this,” Zipser said.

Another regulation that passed last year was the overtime bill, which forces farmers to pay more overtime for the extra hours that Zipser said farm workers wanted to work to earn more money. Now, they’re going to get paid less.

“Sometimes, there is unintended consequences to legislation. It may be the very same people who wanted to protect those that they thought they were protecting … they’re hurting them because it’s going to reduce their hours, and it’s going to reduce money in their pocket,” Zipser said. “We don’t like that, because we want to make sure that our folks who are working for us in this industry are protected. Our farmers and ranchers do that without question. They are part of the family. Unintended consequences are what I believe that this overtime bill was going to create.”

Of course, the farm industry wants everyone to thrive: the pruners, the tractor drivers, the welders, the harvester, the irrigators, and the mechanics.

According to Zipser, farmers were talking about how some of these workers have been employed with them for 20 to 40 years, have bought homes and put their kids through college and have thrived.

“This is the way they did business in the past, and somebody comes along and they want to change it all up. Again, an unintended consequence. That farm worker who could send their child through college might not be able to now or won’t be able to buy that home, and that is the American dream. We want to buy a home and we want to make a better life for our kids. Sometimes things step in the way of that,” Zipser said.

“The farmers contribute so much, if you take everything into consideration. They are truly our folks who are heroes.”

 

2017-02-08T23:29:15-08:00February 8th, 2017|

California Cattlemen Challenge Illegal Listing of Grey Wolf

Ranchers Fighting to Protect Livestock

By: Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

On January 31, the California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and the California Farm Bureau Federation filed a lawsuit challenging the California Fish and Game Commission’s June 2014 decision to list the grey wolf as an endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act. This decision went into effect on January 1, 2017, and has many farmers and ranchers upset.

“The organizations are represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a nationwide leader in litigation aimed at ensuring limited government, private property rights and sensible environmental protections. The suit alleges that endangered listing of the gray wolf under the California Endangered Species Act was improper for three reasons,” the CCA said in a news release.

This subspecies of grey wolf originally descended from Canada. It is not native to the state of California, as the law requires, and definitely not an asset for California’s agriculture industry. Secondly, there is an abundant and healthy population of this species throughout the western United States. The Commission focused too much on the California populations, the CCA alleges. Lastly, the commission impermissibly listed the grey wolf based on the occasional presence in California by a single wolf at that time.

“The Fish and Game Commission took a big bite out of its own credibility with this unjustified listing,” said Damien Schiff, PLF Principal Attorney, in the CCA’s release. “The agency managed to label the gray wolf as ‘endangered’ only by myopically and illegally ignoring its population outside California.”

Ranchers’ livestock fall prey to these predators, and this new policy will cause a huge impact on the rural economies that depend upon agriculture. CCA president and Butte County cattleman Dave Daley said in the news release that the lawsuit is necessary for ranchers to ensure the humane treatment of their livestock.

“Under California law, you can’t even pursue a species that is listed as endangered,” Daley said. “If a rancher sees a wolf attacking one of his or her calves, he or she can’t chase the wolf away without breaking the law. Ranchers are not seeking open season on wolves, we just want sensible wolf management that also allows us to protect our livestock. That will require delisting the gray wolf.”

The case is California Cattlemen’s Association, et. al. v. California Fish and Game Commission, filed in the Superior Court of California for the County of San Diego. Those interested in the case can visit www.pacificlegal.org for more information.

2021-05-12T11:17:10-07:00February 7th, 2017|

Postcard Campaign to Stop Additional Pesticide Regulations Near Schools

Call to Growers: Join Postcard Campaign to Stop Additional Pesticide Regulations Near Schools before Friday, Dec. 9

 

By Brian German, Associate Broadcaster

 

Proposed DPR Regulations

“The proposed California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) further restricting growers from applying crop protection products near schools is unnecessary,” noted Kelly Covello, president of the Almond Alliance of California, which advocates and lobbies for the almond industry.

“Basically, this proposed rule is going to add a layer of unnecessary regulation. It proposes restricting pesticide applications within a quarter mile of schools and daycare centers between Mondays and Fridays, 6am to 6pm,” said Covello. She noted there are already regulations in place to protect both the community and the applicator.

Likewise, Colleen Cecil, executive director, Butte County Farm Bureau, said, “We’re very confident in the regulation that currently exists and the responsibility that landowners take when it comes to spraying anywhere. There are rules in place and these rules work.”

“The environmental community has done a bang-em-up job at fear-mongering, period. They believe they can take pictures of kids next to fields and make the farmer the bad guy. Nothing can be further from the truth,” Cecil said.

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of people,” noted Ceil. “As stewards of the land, farmers already do everything in their power to mitigate risks involved in agriculture and the application of pesticide is no exception.”  Cecil added, “The puzzling part of the proposed regulation is that DPR have stated themselves that they were ‘unable to quantify the benefits’ and that ‘any health benefits of the prohibitions are unknown.'”

 

 

Postcard campaign to stop additional pesticide regulation near schools dpr

Postcard campaign to stop additional pesticide regulation near schools

Call for Growers to Take Action

“We have joined California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) and other organizations that are working on this issue,” said Covello. “One of the main calls to action for grower engagement with DPR is CFBF’s postcard campaign. If you would like postcards to share with your grower network, please email staff@almondalliance.org or simply print from the Postcard PDF document and mail directly to DPR (contact information is on the last page of the PDF document).   A high volume of input will be critical.

Growers can also sign and share CFBF’s petition. Farm Bureau will deliver the petitions to DPR before the comment period closes on December 9.

“This [proposed regulation] really is unnecessary,” said Covello. “There is no science. There is no injury or illness that has sparked the need for new regulations. We are really hoping we can get our growers engaged by sending in a postcard or sending in comments. Again, growers can contact the Almond Alliance by email at staff@almondalliance.org and by phone at (209) 300-7140.

“We would be happy to get you a postcard,” Covello said. “We can also email it to anyone. So please help us in this fight to stop unnecessary regulation.”


Almond Alliance of California

Butte County Farm Bureau

California Department of Pesticide Regulation

California Farm Bureau Federation

2021-05-12T11:05:43-07:00December 5th, 2016|

Senate Tells Gov. Agencies to Back Off WOTUS Rule

U.S. Senate Tells EPA/Army Corps to Back Off Farmers re: WOTUS Clean Water Act

 

Edited by California Ag Today Staff

 

A report issued TODAY by a U.S. Senate committee documents how federal agencies overreach their authority to regulate farmland, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF), which said the report underlines the need for congressional action to reform the agencies’ practices, particularly regarding the WOTUS Rule.

The report from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee describes numerous incidents in which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have tried to expand their authority to regulate what crops farmers grow and how they grow them, based on the agencies’ interpretation of the Clean Water Act.

“A disturbing number of the cases described in the Senate report came from California,” CFBF President Paul Wenger said. “Farmers and ranchers here have seen firsthand that the abuses outlined in this report aren’t theoretical—they’re real.”

One case in California is particularly troublesome. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) ordered John Duarte, a farmer and nurseryman to cease farming his land after he plowed 4-7 inches deep to plant a wheat crop in his field. Duarte, in turn, filed a lawsuit to vindicate his right to farm his land. The U.S. Department of Justice fired back with a countersuit.John Duarte WOTUS

Duarte has spent over $1 million in legal fees to date, yet the government is seeking $6-8 million in fines and “wetland credits.” Duarte now faces a costly appeal and legal battle, the outcome of which will set precedence on important issues affecting farmers and ranchers nationwide.

Landowners’ concerns stem from a rule the agencies finalized last year, known as the “Waters of the United States” or WOTUS rule, which would bring more waterways under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. Although a federal court has temporarily halted enforcement of the WOTUS rule, landowners and their representatives say the Corps continues to enforce the act so narrowly that, as a practical matter, its actions mirror the intent of the new rule.

“We’re grateful the Senate committee has highlighted the impact on farmers and ranchers caused by overzealous interpretation of the Clean Water Act,” Wenger said. “Farmers and ranchers want to do the right thing and protect the environment as they farm. But they shouldn’t be tied up in knots by regulators for simply plowing their ground or considering a new crop on their land, and they shouldn’t have their land declared off limits if they must leave it idle due to drought or other conditions beyond their control.”

Wenger called on California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to join efforts to clarify Clean Water Act enforcement and reform agency practices. “Congress has the ability to restore balance to Clean Water Act enforcement,” said Wenger. “We urge our California members to help farmers grow food and protect the environment, free from fear of overreaching regulation.”

Details of Senate Statement

epa-logo-wotusU.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released an EPW Majority Committee report titled “From Preventing Pollution of Navigable and Interstate Waters to Regulating Farm Fields, Puddles and Dry Land: A Senate Report on the Expansion of Jurisdiction Claimed by the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act.”

The report releases findings from the majority staff’s investigation into how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers are interpreting and implementing their authority under the Clean Water Act.

“This new majority committee report demonstrates in detail that the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, under the Obama administration, are running rogue,” Inhofe said. “Case studies in this report show that the Obama administration is already asserting federal control over land and water based on the concepts they are trying to codify in the WOTUS rule, even though the courts have put that rule on hold. Congress shouldn’t wait on the Supreme Court to make the inevitable decision that this agency overreach is illegal.

“This report should be evidence enough that it’s time for Democrats and Republicans to work together rein in EPA and the Corps. Over the course of the past year, 69 Senators – a veto proof majority – have gone on the record about their grave concerns regarding the WOTUS rule. It’s time to come together to protect farmers, ranchers, water utilities, local governments, and contractors by giving them the clarity and certainty they deserve and stopping EPA and the Corps from eroding traditional exemptions.”

The report summarizes case studies that demonstrate the following:

EPA and the Corps have and will continue to advance very broad claims of jurisdiction based on discretionary authority to define their own jurisdiction.

The WOTUS rule would codify the agencies’ broadest theories of jurisdiction, which Justice Kennedy recently called “ominous.”

Landowners will not be able to rely on current statutory exemptions or the new regulatory exemptions because the agencies have narrowed the exemptions in practice and simply regulate under another name.

For example, the report highlights instances where if activity takes place on land that is wet: Plowing to shallow depths is not exempt when the Corps calls the soil between furrows “mini mountain ranges,” “uplands,” and “dry land;”

Disking is regulated even though it is a type of plowing:

Changing from one agricultural commodity constitutes a new use that eliminates the exemption; and puddles, tire ruts, sheet flow, and standing water all can be renamed “disturbed wetlands” and regulated.

On Tuesday, Inhofe delivered a copy of the report with a letter to 11 Senate Democrats who, in a letter on Nov. 3, 2015 to Gina McCarthy, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) on WOTUS, stated that: “Farmers, ranchers, water utilities, local governments, and contractors deserve clarity and certainty. Should the EPA not provide this clarity or enforce this rule in a way that erodes traditional exemptions, we reserve the right to support efforts in the future to revise the rule.”

In Inhofe’s letter to the 11 Senators, he said the new committee report should meet the test set forth in their Nov. 3 letter, and he called on the members to live up to their commitment and work with the committee on tailored legislation to end agency overreach.

2021-05-12T11:05:47-07:00September 20th, 2016|
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