A document from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers is causing considerable concern for county governments and Farm Bureau associations.
The Economic Development and Environmental Committee of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors is recommending the board express opposition to the EPA/ACE proposal under the 1972 Clean Water Act.
The New York State Farm Bureau argues the federal agencies are expanding their control over more "waters of the U.S." beyond the "navigable waters" authorized by Congress and supported by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The bureau claims these new waters could include groundwater, ditches, culverts, pipes, desert washes, erosional features, farm and stock ponds, and prior converted cropland. The bureau also argues that "these overly broad standards" would increase the number of permits, restrict the use of soil nutrients, cause "burdensome oversight" of state and local water-quality programs, and impose regulatory and legal barriers to routine business decisions. It argues that the proposal "creates uncertainty, confusion and would now capture a significant number of public works activities and transportation infrastructure that will now be subject to the CWA and its costly and time-consuming permitting and regulatory protocols."
The National Association of Counties likewise argues the proposal would "significantly broaden the scope" of EPA/ACE jurisdiction. It cites several cases of cost burdens placed by the ACE, three of them on two counties in the Midwest and one in California: the first, over replacement of two old bridges because of 300 feet of roadside ditch; the second, over dealing with flood mitigation; and the third, over a standard concrete-lined ditch. All of these were local issues that could have been handled locally.
Lee Hallenbeck, a Broadalbin farmer, said the EPA and ACE are overstepping their authority. "We've got enough regulation right now," he said.
We urge the county Board of Supervisors to take a stand against this increased federal intrusion and control over water and private and public property in the United States.