The Environmental Protection Commission wants to expand its reach by broadening the Clean Waters Act, a move that’s subject of a hearing before the U.S. Senate’s Agriculture Committee today. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley strongly opposes the EPA’s move to bolster its ability to regulate how waterways are used and he says he’ll be telling the panel about the fears of many farmers over the agency’s efforts.
“It is a power grab,” Grassley says. “When you have county officers, including supervisors, coming to Washington for their annual meeting, and they tell you they oppose it because it would even affect the ditches along the roads, you know something’s wrong.” The original language of the act gave the EPA jurisdiction over “navigable waters,” which Grassley says was intended to cover big commerce ships as they made their way up the Mississippi River, for example.
“Now, look at what EPA wants to do,” Grassley says. “They want to take control of creeks that might not have water in them, which basically gives them control over almost every square inch of land within this country.” Grassley, a Republican, says he’d back up Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer who is calling for the EPA to scrap the entire Clean Waters expansion proposal.
“Hardly a town meeting goes by in Iowa that EPA regulation and specifically this one, but others as well, comes up for questions,” Grassley says. “Over the last three years, there’s been a great deal of concern at my town meetings about overregulation.” The EPA proposes what it calls an update to the Clean Water Act, called the Waters of the United States. It would broaden the definition of “waters” under agency jurisdiction, mainly through removing the word “navigable” from the act. EPA officials say the change will allow the agency to better regulate pollution by getting closer to its source.
Critics claim it is an extreme overreach, extending the Clean Water Act far beyond the intent of Congress. The ag committee meeting was scheduled to begin at 9 AM/Central time.