(Denver, CO ) – A Colorado farm leader is telling Congress he expects the rulemaking process for Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) will protect the nation’s water resources without obstructing the ability of farmers and ranchers to produce food, fuel, and fiber for Americans. Kent Peppler, president of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU), told the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry that the current regulatory landscape is “unacceptable.”
Peppler made his comments in testimony given to the Senate committee. RMFU has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency to inform producers on why WOTUS is going through a rulemaking process. The EPA is working to determine what jurisdiction it does, and does not, have when it comes to regulatory oversight of waters in the U.S. The Clean Water Act of 1972 (and based on a federal law passed in 1948) was meant to safeguard drinking water from upstream pollution. “Eastern states are blessed with ample supplies of water. In the west, water is the most critical resource we have. We do not have water to waste and we cannot afford to have it polluted. Colorado is a headwaters state providing river flows that support millions of people in states across the Southwest,” Peppler told the committee.
Two subsequent Supreme Court rulings have left the EPA and landowners with questions on how the rules apply to various situations. Without established rules, farmers and ranchers are subject to a variety of interpretations and the possibility that courts will make decisions on trial cases. The latter process would eliminate farmers and ranchers from having a voice in the outcome.
“Landowners may not like rules, yet just like traffic laws, these regulations put everyone on the same page and they are in effect to treat everyone fairly,” Peppler added. “EPA is charged with making sure no one upstream is cutting corners to the detriment of downstream water users that include communities, agriculture, recreational and tourism enterprises, and wildlife habitat.”
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union is a general farm organization that provides educational programs, cooperative business development services, and a legislative voice for family farms, ranches, and local communities. RMFU was formed in 1907 and serves members in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
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