By Congressman David Schweikert, Arizona's 6th Congressional DistrictThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in response to our country’s need to tackle the quality of our air, land and water. When the agency began, it was with the belief that oversight of our natural resources would embody a common sense approach to policy making and a dedication to working alongside those most affected by regulations.

Unfortunately, there is very little collaboration and consideration between the EPA and the people touched most their rules. And, a recently proposed EPA rule will have an impact on you and Arizona agriculture

Farm Bureau's #Ditchtherule effort is designed to let the EPA know the newly proposed rule goes beyond appropriate oversight.

In late April, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a proposed rule that would amend the definition of the ‘waters of the U.S under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Instead of creating a rule that clarifies what waters are to be regulated by the EPA, the EPA released a regulation that would step beyond the spirit of the CWA.  

Not only does this proposed rule expand the EPA’s regulatory reach to nearly every body of water in the country, it also gives the agency control over vast areas of land simply because the land might, at some time, hold or convey water.

Nobody with concern about our waterways is arguing against the need to clarify the jurisdiction of the CWA. However, the rule as it currently stands, never actually defines “waters.” Instead of drawing clear boundaries of what is or isn’t considered ‘water,’ the EPA gives itself the ability to categorize anything outside of it’s list of “waters of the U.S,” on a case-by-case basis.

The EPA and the Corps need to tell us exactly every body of water that this rule intends to regulate so the true sentiment of this rule can be made clear. As the rule stands, the EPA can decide that a canal, irrigation ditch, or even a desert wash could be considered a “water of the U.S.”

Is your backyard really where the EPA should be spending its time?

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Editor's Note: Below are details of a public hearing Arizona citizens are encouraged to attend:

Monday, June 2, 2014
Joint Roundtable: Congressman David Schweikert & Congressman Paul Gosar
Full disclosure: What the EPA’s water rule means for Arizona”

Monday, June 2, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Arizona State Capitol
Senate Hearing Room 1
1700 W Washington St
Phoenix, AZ 85007


Participant List:

U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee

U.S. Congressman David Schweikert, Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on the Environment

U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar, D.D.S., Member of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power

U.S. Congressman Matt Salmon

U.S. Congressman Trent Franks

Arizona State Senator Gail Griffin, Chairman of the Arizona Senate Committee on Water, Land Use and Rural Development

Panelist List

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy and Department of the Army Secretary John McHugh were invited to attend but declined the invitation to participate.  

Panel 1

Michael Lacey – Arizona Department of Water Resources

Governor Gregory Mendoza – Gila River Indian Community

Jay Johnson – Central Arizona Project

Dr. Kirsten Engel – University of Arizona

Panel 2

Stefanie Smallhouse - Arizona Farm Bureau

Bob Lynch – Irrigation and Electrical Districts’ Association of Arizona

Spencer Kamps – Home Builders Association of Central Arizona

Matthew Hinck – Arizona Rock Products Association

Nicole LaSlavic - Arizona Association of Realtors