WASHINGTON, D.C. - A diverse group of agricultural organizations are voicing their opposition to controversial legislation that would substantially change the Clean Water Act by expanding the Environmental Protection Agency's authority. In a letter to members of the Senate, the groups were critical of "an 11th-hour effort" to include the controversial bill S. 1816, The Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act, in the potential Lands, Waters and Wildlife omnibus legislation.


"S. 1816 would fundamentally alter the state-federal relationship within the watershed and enact unprecedented changes to the Clean Water Act," the letter stated. The groups said that while the provisions would apply in six states and the District of Columbia, EPA has repeatedly said it views the Chesapeake Bay proposal as the model for regulatory action in other major watersheds, such as the Mississippi River Basin.


With the letter, the groups sent Senate members a side-by-side comparison chart that explains their primary areas of concern.


"The agriculture sector in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed has a strong history of being a responsible and proactive environmental steward, both through compliance with existing regulations and through implementation of voluntary conservation practices," the letter said. "We are all supportive of common-sense, cooperative approaches to solving water quality problems within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Unfortunately, this legislation falls far short of that approach.


"While there has been a commendable effort on both sides of the aisle to develop bi-partisan legislation relating to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, a final agreement has not yet been reached," continued the letter. "We remain strongly opposed to S. 1816 as written and urge you to oppose any effort to push through a massive piece of legislation that includes the provisions of S. 1816."


To view the comparison chart, click here.

To view the letter and signatories, click here.

SOURCE: American Farm Bureau