James Nygren, legislative affairs officer
| Aug 20, 2014
A proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to vastly expand the federal agency’s powers under the Clean Water Act (CWA) has prompted a number of Nebraska organizations and entities to join forces under the coalition of “Common Sense Nebraska.”
The rule, as proposed by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, erases the distinction between bodies of water. It would give the EPA regulatory authority over ponds, ditches and ephemerals (land that looks like a small stream during heavy rain but isn’t wet most of the year).
The EPA rule would be extremely harmful to Nebraska’s farm and ranch families, forcing many to obtain CWA permits for the most basic farming and ranching practices. Businesses and other entities also required to obtain federal permits would face increased budgets and project timelines. Unpredictability would result -- and that’s never good for farmers and ranchers looking to comply with regulations.
Founding members of the Common Sense coalition include Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Poultry Industries, Nebraska Soybean Association and the Nebraska State Dairy Association.
Other organizations, including FCSAmerica, that have joined the coalition are the AKSARBEN Club Managers Association, Association of General Contractors - NE Chapter, Golf Course Builders Association, Nebraska Association of County Officials, Nebraska Association of Resource Districts, Nebraska Bankers Association, Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Golf Course Superintendents Association, Nebraska Grain Sorghum Producers Association, Nebraska Rural Electric Association, Nebraska State Home Builders Association, and the Nebraska Water Resources Association.
The EPA is accepting public comments on the proposed rule through October 20, 2014. The EPA explains how the public can submit comments and provides the necessary links at www.epa.gov/uswaters. Or you can visit the Nebraska Farm Bureau for a guide and sample letter.