Texas Farm Bureau joins suit against EPA
A new rule that greatly expands Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers control over “waters of the United States” has been challenged in court by the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) and a host of other organizations.
The state’s largest farm organization, the Matagorda County Farm Bureau, American Farm Bureau Federation and 11 other groups filed suit in the federal district court in Galveston. The complaint claims the new rule grants EPA and the Corps broad control over land use—far beyond what Congress authorized in the Clean Water Act.
“This is an astonishing overreach of federal regulatory power,” TFB President Russell Boening said. “It’s clear Congress never intended EPA’s regulatory power to extend beyond truly navigable waters.”
When originally proposed by EPA in 2014, the rule promised clarity to farmers, builders and other business owners. Boening said it is anything but.
“What we have here is a federal agency that conceived a regulatory program when none was needed, lobbied extensively for it and skewed the public comment process,” Boening said. “The result is a rule that spills way over the banks of what Congress intended on the Clean Water Act.”
Boening said the courts and Congress have never gone this far in regulating farming practices. According to the complaint filed by the farm organizations, “the agencies are determined to exert jurisdiction over a staggering range of dry land and water features.” The result, according to the complaint, is a rule that is “vague and uncertain.”
“We represent agriculture, but many other business interests are alarmed by the new rule,” Boening said. “It could involve the federal government in the most routine of our daily decisions.”