Two groups - the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Public Lands Council issued a statement late Wednesday urging the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to oppose the "Clean Water Restoration Act." That measure is scheduled for markup today.
According to the two groups the "dangerous bill would grant the federal government sweeping new regulatory authority, posing serious concerns about government infringement on private property rights."
The groups sent a letter to the committee, pointing out that the bill would significantly expand federal jurisdiction over private farms and ranches, which the groups say is "nothing less than a giant federal land grab and would be disastrous to U.S. agriculture." The strongly worded letter urges committee members to vote against the bill, noting the measure is "unnecessary and unjustifiable, and sets dangerous precedent towards continuing erosion of our fundamental constitutional rights as American citizens."
The key provision is a change in power over U.S. waters. The letter to the committee notes that under current law, the federal government has jurisdiction over "navigable waters of the United States." However, the removal of the word "navigable" in the act would expand federal control to "unprecedented levels - essentially putting stock tanks, drainage ditched and any puddle or water feature found on family farms and ranches across the country under the regulatory strong-arm of the federal government."