The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) has praised lawmakers for introducing the “Preserve the Waters of the U.S. Act” (S. 2245) in the Senate. The legislation seeks to prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) from issuing their “Final Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act” (Final Guidance).
The final guidance document, issued in draft form by EPA and the Corps in May 2011, would significantly change and expand the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA). If finalized, it has the potential to make it more difficult for Americans to build in their backyards, grow crops, manage livestock, expand small businesses and carry out other activities on private lands.
S. 2245 was introduced just days after the Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA, a ruling that supports the rights of property owners to challenge EPA compliance orders that are found to be arbitrary and capricious. In 2007, the Sackett family was told by the agency that the property they had recently purchased in Idaho to build a home was a wetland covered under the Clean Water Act. Although the Sacketts attempted to prove that their property was not a wetland, EPA proceeded to issue a compliance order that if not obeyed would result in fines of up to $75,000 a day. The case eventually ended up before the Supreme Court which ruled in favor of the Sacketts last week.
“The Fertilizer Institute believes the Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA is a victory for land owners throughout the country,” said TFI President Ford B. West. “We are pleased that the legislation introduced by Senators John Barrasso, Dean Heller, Jim Inhofe and Jeff Sessions seeks to prevent additional situations where EPA may be overstepping and infringing on the rights of property owners, including farmers and other land use stakeholders.”
In related efforts on this issue, TFI joined sixty other organizations in sending a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) earlier this week to express serious concerns with EPA and the Corps’ draft guidance. The letter also urged OMB to conduct a thorough review of the Final Guidance, noting that the coalition believes EPA significantly underestimated the costs associated with implementation.