By Mike Barnett
It looks like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is trying to flood agriculture into submission with its revisions of the Clean Water Act.
This map, developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and updated for EPA, shows locations and flow patterns of waterways in Texas.
At first glance, it looks innocent enough. Where it gets problematic is how it could be used.
U.S. Representative Lamar Smith, a Texan and Republican chairman of the House Science Committee, said last week that the maps—which show the locations of streams, marshes and reservoirs, along with larger lakes and rivers across Texas and the nation—signal the wide scope of control the Environmental Protection Agency could wield under its “Waters of the U.S.” revisions of the Clean Water Act (CWA).
“These maps show the EPA’s plan: to control a huge amount of private property rights across the country. Given the astonishing picture they paint, I understand the EPA’s desire to minimize the importance of these maps,” Smith wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
EPA’s revisions, farmers and ranchers say, would give EPA jurisdiction over temporary waterways like seasonal streams. Smith says possession of these maps by the regulatory agency is highly suspicious.
EPA says not to worry.
“Let us be clear—these maps have nothing to do with EPA’s proposed rule or any other regulatory purpose,” said EPA spokesperson Liz Purchia. She noted they were initially created years ago and subsequently updated in 2013—right after EPA announced its proposed revisions for the CWA.
“Trust me. I’m from the EPA and I’m here to help.”
As you can see, the EPA map of Texas is color-coded to depict everything from canals and ditches to reservoirs to marshes. It also depicts streams—permanent as well as those that flow only part of the year. Can you find your farm or ranch on the map? If you live in the white part, you are okay, and probably very, very dry. If not, watch out.
If EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” proposal passes, EPA could be telling you when you can build a fence, why you can’t use pesticides and how to plow your field
The potential for regulatory mischief is huge. The possibility for abuse of private property rights is very real.
Once again, let’s tell EPA it’s time to “Ditch the Rule.”