Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Morgan Griffith on Virginia's "Navigable Waters"

Isn't it incredible? The same very bad idea that was defeated in the state legislature in 2013 is now before the federal legislature. From Morgan Griffith's E-Newsletter (full Newsletter at http://morgangriffith.house.gov/news/email/show.aspx?ID=WKHDH6X2T6GQ56LAWOM5JRT26E )

Government Control of Water

I often speak and write of overreaching Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.  In what appears to be another power grab, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have proposed what is commonly known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which could expand EPA’s jurisdiction.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that the WOTUS rule “…would categorically regulate as ‘navigable waters’ countless ephemeral drains, ditches and other features across the countryside that are wet only when it rains and may be miles from the nearest truly ‘navigable’ water.  It would also regulate small, remote ‘wetlands’ – which may be nothing more than low spots on a farm field – just because those areas happen to be adjacent to a ditch or located in a floodplain.”

What might the WOTUS rule do if it were officially promulgated?  It might enable the EPA to dictate to farmers, land owners, economic developers, local governments, and others where they may or may not build fences, where they may or may not dig ditches, and more.  When there are heavy rains in the mountains, there are many small streams which may only have water three or four times a year.  Under these new regulations, land owners may be forced to chop up pastureland and fence these “dry branches” off, making it difficult to farm.

Many coal mines are being shuttered.  Now the EPA wants to control use of our land.  If we can’t use coal and if we can’t build or dig in the mountains, what are we supposed to do?  How are we supposed to transition our economy as envisioned by the progressives?

“Under this plan, there’d be no body of water in America including mud puddles and canals that wouldn’t be at risk from job-destroying federal regulation,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) said.  “This dramatic expansion of federal government control will directly impact the livelihoods and viability of farmers and small businesses in rural America.”

EPA maps of the country’s waters and wetlands appear to show the EPA’s plans to control significant amounts of property across the 50 States.  These concerning maps, recently released by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, can be found at http://science.house.gov/epa-maps-state-2013.

In May, I joined 230 Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle in urging the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw their overreaching WOTUS rule.  I believe that state and local governments ought to remain in control of decisions of this nature.  I remain opposed to the WOTUS rule, and will continue working to fight it and other overreaching EPA actions.

As always, if you have concerns or comments or wish to inquire about legislative issues, feel free to contact my offices. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.