The Environmental Protection Agency has approved the expansion of the Clean Water Act despite objections from local farmers, who say they'll continue to fight.
The EPA announced they finalized the expansion Wednesday. They say the rule expansion is all about clearly defining what is already protected through the Clean Water Act.
The agency says it's only focusing on creeks, streams and ditches that could affect water quality, and stressed that all the same exemptions and exclusions for agriculture still apply.
The Texas Farm Bureau's Director of Government Affairs Regan Beck says this is just another example of governmental overreach.
“Almost all water is going to filter into our drinking water systems at some point. It may start way upland, but eventually it's going to work our way into our water systems,” says Beck. “We really want to keep clean water and make sure we do that, but we think there's already regulation in place that does do that.”
The TFB argues the rule is too broad and would allow the EPA to claim almost any body of water.
Opponents say that gives the agency too much power and it could have far reaching effects on farmers.
“So if they do that and a farmer has different farming practices when he plows, when he puts fertilizer or pesticides it may affect his practices to where he may actually have to go get a permit to just farm what he would normally do anyway,” says beck.
The farm bureau says legal action is likely.
“Hopefully we can have a legislative fix to this, but if we cannot get this done in the agency, of course there's always the court system. I'm sure there will be legal challenges to this rule because it is so broad and it is so encompassing,' says Beck. “We are working in conjunction with our American Farm Bureau Federation. It's not just a state issues, it's a nationwide issue and so we'll all be working together to fix this.”