Every four years, the American Farm Bureau Federation asks the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees to address the issues that concern farmers and ranchers the most. We asked Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump the same questions.
This is the last article in the #Vote4Ag series from AFBF. Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday!
If you’ve been involved with Farm Bureau in the past several years you know about our involvement and leadership in opposition to the “Water of the U.S.” or WOTUS rule from EPA. Let’s be clear up-front: clean water is important to farmers and ranchers. Water is necessary for the farm and ranch to thrive! And farmers and ranchers are committed to protecting our nation’s water resources.
Our issue is with the regulations and enforcement of the EPA under the WOTUS rule. So, what are talking about? The EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) finalized a rule significantly expanding the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA). This regulation expands federal authority beyond the limits approved by Congress and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Our fear is that the EPA will use this new jurisdiction over things any ordinary person would call land – landscape features that you will find on just about any farm or ranch in the country.
The impact on farmers and ranchers will be enormous as they go about their daily work. The most commonplace farming practices and long-standing exemptions assured by Congress may no longer protect farmers and ranchers. These violations may trigger huge fines and burdensome federal permit requirements.
The rule is being challenged in court, but that will take years and who knows the eventual outcome.
We asked each of the candidates the following question:
The Environmental Protection Agency has clear direction from both Congress and the Supreme Court on the limitations of its authority under the Clean Water Act, and yet the agency continues to push the limits or ignore them completely. What would you do as president to ensure that the EPA acts within the bounds of the Clean Water Act?
HILLARY CLINTON RESPONSE:
“The Clean Water Act is one of our most successful environmental regulations, helping fulfill the basic right of all Americans to accessing clean water. Not too long ago our rivers were literally on fire, and polluters were free to dump toxic chemicals at will. The Clean Water Act not only stemmed these environmental disasters but helped to reverse course and restore healthy swimmable and fishable waters for all Americans to enjoy. As president, Hillary will continue this legacy. She will work to ensure waters are safe and protected, will maintain the longstanding exemptions for common farming practices, and will continue pushing for clarity within the law.”
DONALD TRUMP RESPONSE:
“First, I will appoint a pro-farmer Administrator of EPA. Next, I will eliminate the unconstitutional “Waters of the US” rule, and will direct the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA to no longer use this unlawful rule and related guidance documents in making jurisdictional determinations. This rule is so extreme that it gives federal agencies control over creeks, small streams, and even puddles or mostly dry areas on private property. I will also ensure that these agencies respect the valid exclusions under environmental statutes for agricultural practices. To be clear, my Administration will work to ensure clean water for all Americans while also restoring the proper limits of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. Unlike the Obama-Clinton team, my Administration will work cooperatively with the States—most of which have been completely ignored by EPA under the Obama Administration—to achieve shared, common-sense environmental goals.”