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Our Views

Our Views Columns

Date: 6/5/2014

Title: Arizona Witnesses Testify against EPA’s Proposed Land Grab

In Phoenix, Ariz., this week U.S. Representatives Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and David Schweikert  (R-Ariz.) hosted a joint field hearing to analyze the EPA's proposed rule to expand the definition of “waters of the United States" and the potential harm the expansion may cause to businesses and consumers. Five members of the United States Congress attended including Reps. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), and Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

EPA’s proposed rule expands the Clean Water Act jurisdiction over nearly all areas with any hydrologic connection to downstream navigable waters, including man-made conveyances such as ditches. Contrary to claims made by the EPA and the Corps, this would directly contradict prior U.S. Supreme Court decisions, which imposed limits on the extent of federal CWA authority.

“The EPA is once again overreaching and attempting to seize control of more of our resources - in this case water - by attempting to expand the definition of navigable waters to include things like intrastate waters, farm and stock ponds, prior converted crop lands, prairie potholes and trenches that contain rainwater,” Gosar wrote in a statement following the hearing. “Arizonans can't afford more economic hurdles and thieveries of precious water supplies from an overzealous, unaccountable federal government operating in hyper mode.”

Stefanie Smallhouse, member of Arizona Cattlemen's Association, expressed concerns that the expansion would be detrimental to several well-established farming and ranching operations, including her own.

"The newly proposed EPA rule for the Waters of the U.S. would be devastating to my family’s farming operation, as well as hundreds of others in agriculture in Arizona,” said Smallhouse. “This proposed rule is an economic disaster, and a dream killer for my kids. There is no way a family farm such as ours would be able to withstand the hefty fines which would be enforced as a result of this rule."

Although the agencies have maintained that the rule is narrow and clarifies CWA jurisdiction, the proposal aggressively expands federal authority under the CWA while bypassing Congress and creating unnecessary ambiguity.