(NAFB)--The Senate did not adopt an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing the Clean Water Act jurisdictional guidance document. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald called it a tragedy that those who voted against the amendment refuse to recognize the devastating effect the guidance will have on farmers and ranchers across the country. If finalized - McDonald says it would be the biggest federal land-grab in history - requiring cattlemen to apply for permits to conduct everyday activity such as cleaning out a ditch.
Despite multiple calls by the Supreme Court to clarify what constitutes a water of the United States - McDonald says Congress has refused to do so. Without that clarification - McDonald says the Obama Administration has taken great liberty in crafting guidance that allows EPA to claim that any water body is a water of the U.S. According to McDonald - the administration’s current interpretation of what constitutes a water of the U.S. is incorrect based on Supreme Court precedent and flies in the face of the Clean Water Act’s plain language. Despite the failure of the Senate to address this issue - NCBA is hopeful Congress will start to do its job at some point and clarify the jurisdictional limits to the CWA.