Once again the bright lights are shown on the caricature of the federal government regulating everything from cradle to grave – only this time it is from stock pond to ditch.
With the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rule to expand the definition of the “Waters of the United States” to the stock ponds on our ranches and to the ditches on our farms by removing the word “navigable” from these Clean Water Act regulations, we experience Big Brother’s appetite for controlling everything – from your smartphone texts, to your Internet service – to our stock ponds.
Arizona’s cattle ranching families rely on clean sources of water for our animals and to nurture our land. In fact, we support efforts to keep our water clean and we spend a great deal of time and resources working to enhance our water resources.
This flawed EPA rule will only hamper our efforts by demanding and increasing permit requirements from a system that already has a backlog of thousands of permits. The EPA’s insatiable appetite to control everything in our lives is beginning to make it another 3-letter acronym associated with failure and abuse – like the IRS.
Given our interest in “Clean Water,” we asked the EPA to withdraw this rule and convene a stakeholder process to develop a workable solution and clarity to the process so it did not expose our stock ponds, ditches and other areas, where water might collect on our ranches, to an expensive and inefficient federal permitting system. They did not. Instead we just got a retread of a previously flawed regulatory process. This is unfortunate.
Maybe the greatest failure of this new rule is: It eviscerates the cooperative federalism concept which is the crux of the original Clean Water Act – usurping Arizona’s rights to regulate its own water. As citizens we should demand a better process, as taxpayers we should demand a more acceptable program and as Arizonans we should demand our voice to be heard…. Because for sure – we all demand clean water!
– Dan Bell is president of the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association.