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Reps want government with Clean Water Act want to control ALL waters
May 23, 2007, sent by Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen,
There are two key developments that have transpired in the past 24 hours that should interest all Western irrigators and water managers:
1. Reps. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.) introduced legislation May 22 to restore what they said is the original intent of the Clean Water Act to protect all waters of the United States, not only those that are used for navigation;
2. A House Agriculture subcommittee Tuesday kicked off what promises to be a long legislative effort to renew the 2002 farm bill.
The text for Rep. Oberstar’s Clean Water Act “clarification” bill (HR 2421) is not available yet, but it is expected to be the same as the bill (HR 1356) he introduced in the last Congress, a copy of which is available here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c109:7:./temp/~c109C8eY74. The article pasted below provides additional information on this development, which has been expected for some time. I’ve also included below a list of the cosponsors of HR 2421.
The House Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research Subcommittee approved four titles of the emerging Farm Bill (HR 2419), en bloc, by voice vote. The subcommittee approved the conservation, credit, energy and research titles of what will become a 10-title, five-year bill. Amendments approved by voice vote:
Five other subcommittees will also weigh in; next up is the Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee markup on Thursday.
More information will follow as these issues further develop.
Family Farm Alliance
ATTACHMENTS INCLUDED BELOW:
HR 2421 Cosponsors
Mr. OBERSTAR, Mr. DINGELL, Mr. EHLERS, Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas, Mr. SAXTON, Mr. TAYLOR, Mr. PLATTS, Mr. HIGGINS, Mr. LOBIONDO, Mr. COHEN, Mr. SHAYS, Mr. DEFAZIO, Mr. KIRK, Mr. NADLER, Mr. WALSH of New York, Ms. MATSUI, Mr. CASTLE, Mrs. TAUSCHER, Mr. SMITH of New Jersey, Mr. FILNER, Ms. CORRINE BROWN of Florida, Mr. CAPUANO, Ms. HIRONO, Mr. KAGEN, Mr. BISHOP of New York, Mr. CUMMINGS, Ms. CARSON, Mr. MCNERNEY, Mr. ARCURI, Mr. CARNAHAN, Ms. NORTON, Mr. HALL of New York, Mr. DOGGETT, Mr. GRIJALVA, Mr. PALLONE, Mr. SCOTT of Virginia, Mr. BRADY of Pennsylvania, Mr. HINCHEY, Ms. SCHWARTZ, Mr. KUCINICH, Mr. THOMPSON of California, Mr. WEXLER, Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California, Ms. MCCOLLUM of Minnesota, Ms. ESHOO, Mr. HASTINGS of Florida, Mr. BLUMENAUER, Mr. BERMAN, Mr. KILDEE, Ms. HOOLEY, Mr. SERRANO, Mr. WAXMAN, Mrs. CAPPS, Mr. MORAN of Virginia, Mr. SARBANES, Mr. PATRICK MURPHY of Pennsylvania, Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts, Mr. DOYLE, Mr. LANTOS, Mr. LEVIN, Mr. OLVER, Mr. PAYNE, Mr. HONDA, Mr. ABERCROMBIE, Mr. CHANDLER, Mr. CROWLEY, Ms. MOORE of Wisconsin, Mr. MCNULTY, Mr. MOORE of Kansas, Ms. CASTOR, Mr. COURTNEY, Mr. JACKSON of Illinois, Mr. SPRATT, Mr. CLAY, Mr. MCDERMOTT, Mr. ACKERMAN, Mr. WYNN, Mr. LANGEVIN, Mr. VISCLOSKY, Ms. WOOLSEY, Mrs. LOWEY, Mr. SIRES, Mr. HODES, Mr. STARK, Ms. KAPTUR, Mr. DELAHUNT, Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California, Mr. MURPHY of Connecticut, Mr. KANJORSKI, Mr. ROTHMAN, Mr. PASCRELL, Mr. UDALL of New Mexico, Ms. SUTTON, Ms. SCHAKOWSKY, Mr. HOLT, Ms. BALDWIN, Mr. SCHIFF, Mr. GONZALEZ, Mr. SHERMAN, Mr. FARR, Ms. SLAUGHTER, Mr. ALLEN, Mrs. DAVIS of California, Mr. MCGOVERN, Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas, Mr. TOWNS, Mr. ANDREWS, Mr. GORDON, Ms. BEAN, Ms. SOLIS, Mr. KLEIN of Florida, Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi, Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California, Mr. NEAL of Massachusetts, Ms. ROYBAL-ALLARD, Mr. WU, Mr. TIERNEY, Mr. WEINER, Mr. VAN HOLLEN, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. RUPPERSBERGER, Ms. CLARKE, Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, Mr. RYAN of Ohio, Mrs. CHRISTENSEN, Mr. MARKEY, Mr. MEEHAN, Mr. CLEAVER, Mr. ENGEL, Mr. DAVIS of Alabama, Ms. KILPATRICK, Mrs. MCCARTHY of New York, Ms. SHEA-PORTER, Mr. DICKS, Mr. KIND, Mr. LARSON of Connecticut, Mr. KENNEDY, Mr. LEWIS of Georgia, Mr. WELCH of Vermont, Mr. GUTIERREZ, Mr. PRICE of North Carolina, Mr. COOPER, Mr. RUSH, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. STUPAK, Ms. LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ of California, Ms. WATERS, Ms. HARMAN, Mr. BUTTERFIELD, Mr. YARMUTH, Mr. DAVIS of Illinois, Ms. DEGETTE, Mr. INSLEE, Ms. LEE, Mr. FATTAH, Mr. RANGEL, Ms. DELAURO, and Mr. LYNCH):
Reps. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.) introduced legislation May 22 to restore what they said is the original intent of the Clean Water Act to protect all waters of the United States, not only those that are used for navigation.
"It's very simple legislation," said Oberstar, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "It simply restores the purpose of the 1972 Clean Water Act ... the purpose of which is to restore the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters, not only navigable waters, but all the nation's waters."
The Clean Water Restoration Act (H.R. 2421) replaces the term "navigable waters" with "waters of the United States."
It retains, however, the existing Clean Water Act exemptions for mining, agriculture, and silviculture, according to the bill's sponsors.
In doing so, H.R. 2421 is correcting an "error" made by the U.S. Supreme Court in its SWANCC ruling in 2001 and its Rapanos ruling in 2006 regarding the Clean Water Act's jurisdiction over wetlands, said Dingell, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Oberstar and Dingell announced the bill at a news conference.
Oberstar said the Supreme Court is not supposed to legislate, but it did so in SWANCC and Rapanos, leaving "the regulatory framework in disarray."
In SWANCC, the Supreme Court said the presence of migratory birds could not be used to claim federal jurisdiction over isolated, non-navigable, intrastate bodies of water and instructed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to define the federal scope of wetlands regulations (Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. Corps of Engineers, 531 U.S. 159, 51 ERC 1833 (2001); 7 DER A-28, 01/10/01 ).
Five years later in Rapanos, the court sidestepped the question of whether Section 404 of the Clean Water Act protects wetlands separated by man-made berms from navigable waters or by tributaries that flow into navigable waters (Rapanos v. United States, U.S., No. 04-1034, 62 ERC 1481 (2006); 123 DER A-17, 6/27/06 ).
The Environmental Protection Agency is charged with setting environmental standards under the Clean Water Act, whereas the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is charged with enforcing Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Section 404 requires dredge-and-fill permits for activities that destroy or disturb wetlands.
Hearings to Be Held
Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers, said the bill restores "common sense" to wetlands regulation. "Everything including water flows downhill," Wodder said at the news conference.
After the news conference, Don Parrish, regulatory affairs manager for the American Farm Bureau Federation, told BNA that the bill has broader implications than just protecting wetlands, intermittent streams, and headwaters.
"If you build a road, you have to build a ditch to get water off the road," Parrish said. "To me, it looks like it is covered under this bill."
Jon Devine, of the Natural Resources Defense Council, told BNA that the bill is not attempting to "redefine" wetlands or point sources, like ditches. "Congress has already done that," Devine said.
H.R. 2421 is supported by 158 members of Congress--mostly Democrats. Among its Republican co-sponsors is Rep. Vernon Ehlers (Mich.).
By Amena H. Saiyid
CQ COMMITTEE COVERAGE
By Catharine Richert and Adrianne Kroepsch, CQ Staff
A House Agriculture subcommittee Tuesday kicked off what promises to be a long legislative effort to renew the 2002 farm bill.
The panel’s Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research Subcommittee approved four titles of the bill (HR 2419), en bloc, by voice vote.
The aptly named subcommittee approved the conservation, credit, energy and research titles of what will become a 10-title, five-year bill. Five other subcommittees will also weigh in; next up is the Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee markup on Thursday.
A slew of
amendments to establish new programs were
offered toward the beginning of the debate, but
the markup lost steam when more and more
proposals were withdrawn at the behest of
That is because the budget baseline for the farm bill is about $60 billion less than lawmakers had to work with in 2002. Minus a $20 billion dollar reserve fund called for by the fiscal 2008 budget resolution (S Con Res 21) that lawmakers can dip into so long as the money is offset, there is no available cash for funding boosts or new programs.
The debate was
also strained by the fact that the full
Agriculture Committee chairman,
Even though House leaders have made no promises that these funds will actually be made available, members were hoping to tap the reserve to pay for new programs.
First up at Tuesday’s markup were conservation programs, which pay farmers to retire land or practice environmentally-friendly farming. Based on the title approved by the subcommittee, conservation programs would see just a $3.8 billion increase over the next five years — a figure that conservation advocates are finding hard to swallow.
“We were pleased to see that the House bill reauthorizes these programs, but finding the money to fund them is still a huge question,” said Barton James who is co-chairman of the Agriculture and Wildlife Working Group.
The committee’s overall funding obstacles became apparent during debate over the conservation title. Of the 26 amendments offered to that title, only six were adopted and the rest were withdrawn because they could not be paid for.
“Farmers cannot go without government assistance to meet all the government regulations imposed on them,” he said.
But Cardoza $300 million proposal would have required that funds be taken from other programs, or come from the reserve fund.
to boost funding for conservation programs were
also withdrawn, including an amendment by
— all approved by voice vote — included one by
better luck boosting authorized funding in the
energy title. The panel gave voice-vote approval
to an amendment by
The energy title would create a federal loan guarantee program for biorefineries and biofuel production plants, and would reauthorize and update several existing bioenergy programs.
Loan guarantees for biorefineries and biofuel plants would be intended to cover up to $2 billion in loans for building and retrofitting such facilities. Selection criteria for the loans would follow those for existing grant programs under the 2002 farm law (PL 107-171).
The energy title would also authorize funding for a biodiesel education program ($2 million annually), a forest bioenergy research program ($15 million annually) and dedicated ethanol pipeline feasibility studies ($1 million annually), among others.
The research title contains the largest science policy initiative in the aggregate 2007 farm bill. It would authorize six independent research institutes, that together would comprise an Agriculture Research Institute.
The research institute would play a role within agriculture research similar to that of the National Institutes of Health in medical research. The Agriculture Research Institute would coordinate the programs and activities of USDA’s now-scattered research agencies. The research consortium would include institutes dedicated to renewable energy, resources and environment; food safety, nutrition and health; plant health and production; animal health and production; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities.
The research title would reauthorize a handful of research programs already under way, and would establish a new bioenergy and bio-based products research initiative to work on the conversion of biomass to renewable energy.
Only one amendment was offered to the research title Tuesday — a proposal to fund cranberry research offered and withdrawn by Kagen.
The credit title left the subcommittee unamended.
Provisions included in the credit section govern the farm loan programs of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency and the cooperatively owned Farm Credit System, among other things.
The measure would expand access to several existing avenues of farm credit and create new ones, said Holden. New initiatives include a loan guarantee program for producers to carry out conservation projects, e said.
Single family housing loans received some attention Tuesday, as the measure would update the population limit for rural housing lending. The credit title would change existing regulations for short and intermediate-term single family home loans from farm credit banks by boosting the population limit for eligible rural areas. Current law defines rural towns eligible for the loans as having 2,500 inhabitants or less. Language approved Tuesday would increase the limit to towns with populations of 6,000 or less.
The credit title would also make changes to the Farm Credit Insurance Corporation, agribusiness loan eligibility and other credit programs administered by the Agriculture Department.
As the day wore on, more and more amendments were pulled — at least until the full committee markup — and lawmakers trickled out of the room, seeming to lose interest in the markup.
Cardoza, who voted for the four titles Tuesday, said he would offer his proposals again.
“There’s a lot more work to do . . . before I can really confidently vote yes,” he said.
Several lawmakers were annoyed that little had been done during the more than six- hour meeting. And subcommittee Chairman Holden acknowledged the difficulties facing the committee, given a tight budget.
“A lot of us were pulled in opposite directions on this,” Holden said. “The ranking member and I were saying that we seem to alienate members on both sides,” meaning those who want to expand programs and those who want to keep further spending at a minimum.
Tension was particularly intense after Peterson informed members Monday night that spending on each title was already capped.
The announcement has added to brewing dissatisfaction among members of both parties with how Peterson has handled this year’s farm bill so far.
Peterson has been writing the draft measures behind closed doors but says he has been taking input from members of both parties. Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers flanked the chairman as he unveiled his draft of the conservation title, the first section of the farm bill to be marked up.
But Tuesday, House aides said that the process has not been as inclusive as Peterson has portrayed. At the subcommittee markup, members criticized Peterson for releasing the draft titles late at night.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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