WASHINGTON, D.C. – Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam testified today on the impacts of the Waters of the United States rule at the Joint Hearing Before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in Washington, D.C.
Excerpts of his testimony are below:
“The EPA has once again made an attempt to expand federal jurisdiction on Florida’s waterways with its proposed changes to the rules guiding the implementation of the Clean Water Act.
“The EPA claims that the purpose of this rule is to clarify which bodies of water are and are not subject to the Clean Water Act. The EPA claims that the proposed regulations will not significantly change what currently is considered Waters of the U.S. And the EPA claims the proposed regulations will not substantially effect communities like agriculture.
“I believe this is another attempt by the EPA to regulate areas outside their authority, and in contradiction to guidance given by the courts.
“Contrary to what the EPA claims, the proposed rule will in fact lack clarity, significantly expand federal jurisdiction, impose burdensome requirements on agriculture, and impede efforts to protect and restore the environment.
“Across the nation, farmers and ranchers are good stewards of the land, and the expansion of federal jurisdiction under this rule will deem many areas of farmland as Waters of the U.S. and therefore subject to federal jurisdiction. The EPA’s proposed rule will expand federal jurisdiction across the country, as much as 20 percent in isolated wetland areas of Central Florida and South Florida.
“In addition, the EPA’s proposed rule will impede and, in some cases, dismantle existing restoration efforts for critically impaired and truly important natural water resources. Rather than supporting environmental restoration projects around Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades and other lakes, rivers and springs, we’ll be forced to divert funding to meet the requirements of this new rule.
“For the sake of Florida’s farmers and ranchers, and our efforts to protect Florida’s environment, I urged the U.S. Congress to stop the EPA from advancing this disastrous policy.”