October 16, 2014

WOTUS would harm Nebraska agriculture


ditchThe impact of EPA’s proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule would be “significant” and “cause cost increases, confusion and uncertainty to agricultural producers” according to a new analysis conducted by the former director of Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ), Mike Linder. Agriculture members of the Common Sense Nebraska coalition chartered the analysis to evaluate Nebraska specific impacts of the EPA’s proposed “Waters” rule on farmers and ranchers, said Steve Nelson, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, Oct. 14.

The rule is based in an attempt by EPA to fix a wetlands permitting program which is cumbersome and lengthy. But, in the process, the proposed rule creates problems in other areas of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The analysis verifies concerns by agriculture groups that EPA’s rule would create broad reaching federal jurisdictional authority for the agency to regulate Nebraska waterways and water features.

“Nebraska is comprised of over 77,000 square miles of area with over 92 percent of that area used for agricultural purposes. There are an infinite number of scenarios that call for good judgment in determining whether or not a particular water body is or should be subject to federal CWA jurisdiction. This rule would impose a blanket jurisdictional determination over thousands of acres of private property. The effect would be to impose unnecessary property restrictions and uncertainty as to what that actually means to a farmer or rancher,” Linder wrote.

“The State of Nebraska has developed a surface water discharge permitting system that is now built on forty years of implementation. EPA’s rule was intended to fix one problem. However, the solution they’ve offered will cause many more,” wrote Linder.

Of additional concern to Nebraska are the rule’s possible impacts on the regulation of groundwater.

Continue reading and listen to an audio report from Linder here.

Comment letter from Linder can be found here.

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