Why You Should Oppose the New EPA Rule

Why You Should Oppose the New EPA Rule

In a 1912 public address President Woodrow Wilson declared that “The history of liberty is a history of limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it.” Some of our current federal officials would be wise to heed Wilson’s counsel.

The reform-minded president recognized that even when used in the name of the common good, unrestrained governmental power is an evil in itself.

One of the duties of citizenship involves keeping a watchful eye on the authority wielded by public agencies – especially when bureaucrats grasp for discretionary decision making over matters that affect the economy and the daily livelihoods of families across the country.

An example of the problem has emerged with a new federal rule issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In April officials at these two agencies proposed what amounts to be a reinterpretation of the Clean Water Act of 1972.

Known as the “Waters of the United States” rule, the proposal would give the agencies the same regulatory control over low spots on dry land and ephemeral water bodies as they have for the Mississippi River.

EPA officials would gain the independent right to determine which areas of dry land are subject to the Clean Water Act. But the authors of the act never intended to give any federal bureaucrat direct control over dry land. This law only applies to navigable waters.

Prairie potholes, ditches and temporary pools of water created by heavy rainfall are not navigable waters by any reasonable understanding.

But the new rule would expand that meaning of the act so that the EPA and the Corps of Engineers could claim they are. If so, land owners would immediately face permitting and mitigation expenses.

Farm families are not the only private land owners at risk. As the article on Pages 10 and 11 of the June issue of FloridAgriculture magazine indicates, the owners and managers of golf courses, recreational lands, utilities, cemeteries and theme parks would face the same financial burdens. Fines for misinterpreting the rule could be as high as $37,500 each day. The agencies’ claims that traditional agricultural practices are exempt do not ring true. The text of the rule presents a very different meaning.

I am greatly distressed at the prospect that many of Florida’s farm families could be forced out of business because of the permitting costs alone. We must protect them against an unprecedented power grab.

I urge you to join us in opposing this rule. Comment on this proposal through FBACT, our grassroots network that helps citizens express their views on public policy issues.

Please join other Florida Farm Bureau members by posting your comments to http://cqrcengage.com/flfb/app/write-a-letter?0&engagementId=47882.

Thank you for supporting Florida agriculture as well as the economic well-being of our state.