2009-06-25 / General Stories

Texas Cattle Raisers Urge Senate to Stop Clean Water Restoration Act

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today passed a bill out of committee that would give the federal government regulatory authority over stock tanks, drainage ditches and any water features found on family ranches despite large opposition from cattle raisers across the country. S. 787, the Clean Water Restoration Act, would achieve unprecedented expansion of federal authority by removing the word "navigable" from the Clean Water Act definition of waters in the U.S. and replacing it with "waters of the United States." The new definition would grant the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers virtually unlimited regulatory control over all wet areas within a state.

The proposed legislation would require cattle producers to manage around puddles in the middle of pastures, drainage areas, road ditches and more. If cattle producers are unable to demonstrate proper management of these areas to the federal government, they could be required to get a permit, which would be far too impractical and expensive. Additionally, the legislation would result in a major decrease in authority from state governments and private property owners all across the United States.

"All waters are not equal in terms of their environmental function and value, and they should not be regulated in the same way," TSCRA President Dave Scott, a rancher from Richmond, Texas, said. "If this bill passes in Congress, ranchers across the U.S. will be forced to get a permit to continue everyday operations on their own land."

"The federal government already struggles to handle the backlog of 15,000 existing permit requests; how it plans to deal with the massive amount of new permitting requirements and litigation this bill will surely create is beyond reason," Scott continued. "There is no doubt ranchers like me will be the ones forced to cover the costs, not to mention the huge administrative burdens of endless government red tape."

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is asking the Senate to stop this bill should it come up for a full Senate vote. The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is a 132-year-old trade organization and is the largest livestock association in Texas. TSCRA has more than 15,000 members who manage approximately 4 million head of cattle on 51.5 million acres of range and pasture land, primarily in Texas and Oklahoma. TSCRA provides law enforcement services, livestock inspection, legislative and regulatory advocacy and educational opportunities for its members and the industry.

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