Some groups more associated with the city than the farm have joined the Nebraska Farm Bureau coalition opposed to an expansion of the Clean Water Act.
Farm Bureau officials have assembled what it calls the “Common Sense Nebraska” coalition to protest the proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to expand the Clean Water Act beyond the regulation of “navigable” waterways.
Farm groups have protested the proposal, claiming that it would allow the EPA to regulate waterways on the farms, even water sources that flow only intermittently.
Sen. Mike Johanns rejects suggestions by the EPA that its proposed change won’t make a difference in enforcement of the act.
“Quite honestly, they don’t have a lot of credibility with me. I don’t trust them. I think they have given me reason over the past six years not to trust them,” Johanns replies. “And we have to get them to write the rule in a way that says that they’re not expanding their jurisdiction.”
A comment period has opened on the proposed rule.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau held a news conference in junction with the annual Legislative Summit at the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland to tout the new members of its coalition. Among those joining are the Nebraska Bankers Association, the Association of General Contractors, the State Home Builders Association, and the Nebraska Golf Course Superintendents Association.
State Chamber of Commerce Chairman Chris Roth, the President/CEO of Reinke Manufacturing in Deshler, says the change proposed by the EPA wouldn’t just affect farmers.
“I truly believe that this proposed rule would be a very large, negative impact to virtually every citizen in the state of Nebraska,” Roth says, adding that he views the rule change as a solution in search of a problem.
Executive Director Larry Dix of the Nebraska Association of County Officials worries the proposal would create bureaucratic headaches for county officials.
“When we looked at this proposed regulation, we believe that through normal maintenance, through the maintenance of our roadways, any time that we would have to go into the ditch to clear our vegetation or anything of that nature, it would require us to get a Corps of Engineers, a federal permit, in order to do that,” Dix says. “Now, you can imagine the delays that would create.”
Dix says the proposed rule would add time and costs to nearly every county road project.
The EPA is accepting public comments on its “Waters of the U.S.” rule through October 20th.
AUDIO: Nebraska Farm Bureau news conference on proposed expansion of Clean Water Act. [25 min.]