May 07 2015
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) has added his support to legislation that would protect our nation’s waters and the rights of landowners against overly burdensome and costly regulatory power-grab by Washington.
The Federal Water Quality Protection Act, which Boozman is cosponsoring, directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers to revise the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule to exclude waters that have never been controlled by the federal government like isolated ponds, ditches and agriculture water that lack enough flow to carry pollutants to navigable waters.
“Arkansas’s agriculture producers are rightfully concerned about the WOTUS rule and how it will limit their ability to use their land and grow their crops. I appreciate the efforts of my colleagues to work to rein in EPA and give the agency direction to write a rule that protects our waters without eroding the rights of landowners,” Boozman said. “By creating specific guidelines for EPA to implement, this legislation returns rule-making authority back to Congress and avoid additional regulatory hurdles.”
The bill requires the agencies to revise its current proposal and adhere to the following principles that the Waters of the US should include:
- Traditional navigable waters and interstate waters.
- Streams identified on maps at the scale used by EPA to identify potential sources of drinking water.
- Streams with enough flow to carry pollutants to a navigable water, based on a quantifiable and statistically valid measure of flow for that geographic area, and
- Wetlands situated next to a water of the United States that protect water quality by preventing the movement of pollutants to navigable water.
The legislation details what Waters of the U.S. should not include
- Water that is located below the surface of the land, including soil water and groundwater.
- Water that is not located within a body of water (e.g., river, stream, lake, pond, wetland), including channels that have no bed, bank or ordinary high water mark or surface hydrologic connection to traditional navigable waters.
- Isolated ponds.
- Stormwater and floodwater management systems.
- Wastewater management systems.
- Municipal and industrial water supply management systems.
- Agricultural water management systems.
- Streams that do not have enough flow to carry pollutants to navigable waters.
- Prior converted cropland.
- Areas lawfully filled pursuant to a permit or areas exempt from permitting.
In March of 2014 the EPA proposed the WOTUS rule that would give the agency much greater power to oversee the land use decisions of homeowners, small businesses and family farms throughout the country. The Clean Water Act, passed by Congress nearly 40 years ago, provides for water quality protection through partnerships between the federal government and the states, but it does not provide unlimited power to the federal government.
In March, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge testified before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry about the negative impact the WOTUS rule would have on Arkansas and questioned the legal basis for the proposed rule.