Senator Fischer hears Testimony on EPA Waters of the U.S. RuleSaturday - Presides over Environment and Public Works Committee field hearing in Lincoln

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John Crabtree,, (563) 581-2867 or (402) 687-2103 ext. 1010
or Elisha Smith,, (402) 922-1409 or (402) 687-2103 ext. 1007

*John Crabtree of the Center for Rural Affairs will testify at the hearing.

Lincoln, Nebraska - Tomorrow, Saturday, March 14th, the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will conduct a field hearing on the proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The purpose of the hearing is to examine the impacts on state and local governments as well as private citizens of the proposed Clean Water Act rulemaking offered jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers. The hearing will examine the views of a diverse group, including representatives from agriculture, homebuilders, natural resource districts, state and local governments, the environmental community, and rural and small town advocates.

The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. CDT at the University of Nebraska’s Hardin Hall, Room 107, on the East Campus in Lincoln, Nebraska. John Crabtree will testify at the hearing on behalf of the Center for Rural Affairs.
To view or download a copy of Crabtree’s testimony go to:
“Here in the west, we understand that there is much truth in the old joke that whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting. Water is life, for people, crops, livestock, and wildlife as well as farms, ranches, business and industry (both small and large). It is in all our interest to protect this most vital of our natural resources. The proposed Waters of the U.S. rule is a crucial step in clearing the regulatory waters and protecting the quality of America’s surface waters.”
John Crabtree, Center for Rural Affairs

“The need for this rulemaking process arises out of the chaos, confusion and complexity surrounding Clean Water Act enforcement that resulted from Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006,”said John Crabtree, Center for Rural Affairs. “The proposed rule focuses on reducing clearing the regulatory waters and reducing that confusion. The Center for Rural Affairs is encouraged by the rulemaking process so far. We urge the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to continue to improve the rule and move this rulemaking process forward.”
Clean water is vital to farming, ranching and small towns. Water for livestock, irrigation and other purposes is crucial to the day to day operations of farms and ranches, added Crabtree. And farmers and ranchers are the tip of the spear for protecting water quality in America because much of the surface water of the U.S. falls first on American farms and ranches.
According to Crabtree’s testimony, the Waters of the U.S. rule goes to great lengths to ensure that farmers and ranchers benefit from preserving water quality but are not overly burdened with the rule’s implementation. All the historical exclusions and exemptions for farming and ranching are preserved. Moreover, the proposal retains the normal farming and ranching exemption.
“This means that dramatic rhetoric such as statements that farmers and ranchers will need a permit to move cattle across a wet field or stream are absolutely false,” Crabtree testified. “Likewise, despite public statements to the contrary by detractors, farm ponds would continue to fall under the long-standing exemption for farm ponds.”
The new rule would, however, go one step further, and specifically exclude stock watering and irrigation ponds built in dry lands. Statements by detractors that the proposed rule will apply to wet areas or erosional features in fields and pastures are also unfounded and needlessly alarm farmers and ranchers, Crabtree explained. In truth, water-filled areas on crop lands are not within the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act under the proposed rule and the new rule specifically excludes erosional land features.
In addition to Crabtree, witnesses who are scheduled to testify include: Justin Lavene of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office; Barb Cooksley, President-elect of the Nebraska Cattlemen; Don Wisnieski, President of the Nebraska State Home Builders Association; Don Blankenau on behalf of the Nebraska Association of Resource Districts and the League of Nebraska Municipalities; Mary Ann Borgeson, Chairwoman of the Douglas County Commission and board member of the Nebraska Association of County Officials; and Wesley Sheets of the Izaak Walton League of America.
Members of the media are invited to a post-hearing media availability where Senator Fischer, witnesses, and members of the Common Sense Nebraska coalition will be on hand to answer questions. Crabtree hopes to participate in that media availability as well.

To watch live: