Nevada Rancher Warns Senators: Federal Regulation of Groundwater Could Be Worse Than WOTUS
WASHINGTON (April 18, 2018) – Testifying on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council, Nevada rancher Joe Guild today warned members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that federal regulation of groundwater under the Clean Water Act would have a detrimental impact on America’s cattle producers.
“One of the most complex environmental issues facing our country in recent history has been the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempted definition of Waters of the United States, known simply as WOTUS,” Guild testified. “NCBA has worked hard, and continues working to ensure that the definition of WOTUS is not expanded to include water that Congress never intended to regulate. However, if the EPA finds authority to regulate discharges to surface water via groundwater, any progress made on this front will be lost. The regulation of groundwater has the potential to impact even more cattle operations than the damaging 2015 WOTUS definition.”
Guild told Senators about how the Carson River and a tributary run through part of a ranch that he manages in western Nevada, and how he works to move his cattle away from the water to keep it clean.
“I’ve implemented voluntary conservation practices on my operations, including the strategic placement of wells and underground pipelines to move water throughout the operation,” Guild said. “Such voluntary practices increase efficiency and maintain natural resource quality, both on my operation and downstream. However, the expansion of the Clean Water Act to regulate discharges into groundwater would change all of this. Not only would such an expansion directly contradict the intent of the law, but take authority from those who can best manage groundwater quality.”
Wednesday’s hearing was held as an information-gathering session for Senators in response to recent federal court decisions that could undermine the way many states currently regulate groundwater.
“States are uniquely qualified to manage and prevent the discharge of pollutants into groundwater,” Guild said. “Regulation under the Clean Water Act would only lead to unnecessary, duplicative permitting and enforcement, usurping current state authority.”