EPA pitch would harm landowners

6/23/2014

The Finney County Farm Bureau wants our fellow Kansans to know the Environmental Protection Agency is attempting an unprecedented federal land grab that will hurt Kansas businesses and damage our fragile state economy.

The EPA has proposed a rule that would allow it and the Army Corps of Engineers to use the federal Clean Water Act to dictate how landowners use their land.

The proposal says most bodies of water that run into a river or lake would be under the EPA's power. This includes farm ditches, flood control levees or golf course ponds. It even includes low spots that only hold water after it rains. The EPA doesn't care if those small bodies of water are on private property. It still wants to regulate them.

Home builders, developers, country clubs and farmers would have to get a permit before working around these "waters" for maybe just a few days out of the year. If they don't, they could be fined more than $37,000 per day for simple tasks like putting up a fence, spraying for weeds, moving dirt, building a terrace or grazing cattle on pasture. Fines like that would drive any small company — the backbone of our Kansas economy — out of business.

Cities and counties would have to change their watershed and storm water management plans to suit the proposal. They'd have to get permits to treat wastewater and might have to get additional pesticide permits. The costs of those permits and complying with complex requirements would be passed on to the rest of us.

We can stop this proposal before it's finalized, but we must act soon.

The proposal's federal docket I.D. is EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880. You can register your opposition in three ways:

Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the directions for submitting comments;

Email ow-docket@epa.gov. Include EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880 in the subject line of the message;

Mail an original and three copies to: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20460, Attention: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880.

BRIAN SCHMEECKLE,

Garden City

Schmeeckle is president of Finney County Farm Bureau.

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