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Farm Bureau: EPA rule could result in 'unlawful expansion of federal regulation'

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The American Farm Bureau Federation is warning it's members to resist a proposed expansion of federal government control over certain bodies of water, as reported yesterday at AgriNews.

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) insists that the rule seeks only to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act, many have referred to rule as a land grab. Fox News reported that Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, for example, referred to the proposal as potentially "one of the most significant private property grabs in U.S. history..."

The proposal, which is still accepting comments, seeks to expand the definition of “waters of the U.S.”

The Farm Bureau warns that the new "definition" could mean that "ordinary fieldwork, fence construction or even planting could require a federal permit." Further, the updated scope of the federal control over waterways could "ultimately could lead to the unlawful expansion of federal regulation to cover routine farming and ranching practices, as well as other common private land uses, such as building homes."

Senator Pat Toomey and fourteen others, including Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul, sent a letter to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy earlier this month referring to the EPA's "reckless disregard for the science." Toomey's website refers to the rule as a "terrifying power grab."

Gina McCarthy wrote an OpEd at the Huffington Post last month saying that due to the Clean Water Act, "Our rivers are no longer flammable."

"Based on sound science and the law," she said, "we're proposing a Clean Water Act rule that clarifies which waters are protected -- with an eye toward those critical waters upstream."

Rep. Jason Smith said that the passage of the rule would be a "significant impact" in an OpEd, lamenting that the "intrusive rule change would require farmers to jump through needless regulatory hoops that would cause delays and reduced productivity..."

He writes in part,

"The EPA wrote their expansion request in a way that would impact every pesticide and fertilizer application and require permits for professionals and homeowners, even on private property. This means that private property owners near any waters would no longer be able to treat their own land unless they obtained a permit from the EPA."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that the change "could result in serious collateral damage to our economy."

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