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Cattle groups challenge EPA’s standards on waste in Florida waterways

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Florida Cattlemen’s Association filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s numeric nutrient criteria, a set of standards that would limit the amount of waste in Florida waterways. #

An article published in Drovers Cattle Network said that the groups are seeking two specific things from the court: #

“First, we ask the court to set aside and hold unlawful the letter and rule because they are arbitrary, capricious, go beyond EPA’s statutory authority and are in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act,” said [Cattlemen's Beef Association Chief Environmental Counsel] Thies. “Secondly, we ask the court to set aside the letter and rule and stop EPA from further action on both due to the irreparable harm Florida agricultural producers will suffer if the agency’s actions are not stopped.” #

In the same aticle, Jim Strickland, president of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, is quoted as saying the rule wasn’t good for Florida or for America, and that the EPA will likely use it as a template for the rest of the country. #

“EPA is overreaching with this mandate and their methodology is flawed. EPA has little to no regard for farmers and ranchers and obviously no respect for congressional intent,” Strickland said. #

On Wednesday, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the proposal of new guidelines to clarify and expand the definition of which types of waterways are subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act. The guidance would take affect following a 60-day comment period and would serve as a reference for environmental agencies in determining their jurisdiction over a particular waterway. #

According to the EPA, the guidelines would “reaffirm protections” for wetlands and small streams that feed into larger rivers, bays and coastal waters: #

Discharging pollution into protected waters (e.g., dumping sewage, contaminants, or industrial pollution) or filling protected waters and wetlands (e.g., building a housing development or a parking lot) require permits. This guidance will keep safe the streams and wetlands that affect the quality of the water used for drinking, swimming, fishing, farming, manufacturing, tourism and other activities essential to the American economy and quality of life. It also will provide regulatory clarity, predictability, consistency and transparency. #

The same cattle groups that yesterday filed suit were none too happy with the EPA’s announcement, which they said was a “vast overreach.” AgInfo.net summarized the thoughts of two of the country’s leading agricultural groups: #

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the Obama administration essentially rewrote two U.S. Supreme Court cases and ignored concerns from Congress in issuing a guidance the NCBA says dramatically expands the regulatory authority of the EPA under the Clean Water Act. The National Corn Growers Association says the guidelines have the potential to expand federal jurisdiction in a way that could lead to additional permitting requirements and make farmers more vulnerable to citizen action lawsuits. #

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