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September 04, 2014

Mary Johnson
(334) 235-1406

Map of waters in Alabama commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Areas in yellow, blue and green would be considered "waters of the U.S" under the proposed rule and could be subject to EPA regulations if the rule is finalized.

The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology (SST) recently released national maps from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showing the potential extent of increased regulations under the agency’s proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

“Viewing these maps is unnerving because they show just how much of our nation could be opened up to overreaching EPA regulations,” said Alabama Farmers Federation Director of National Legislative Programs Mitt Walker. “This is a big issue for farmers in Alabama, but it’s also an issue for home and business owners all across the U.S. If this rule is adopted, Americans will be dealing with EPA regulations in their own backyards.”

EPA regulations could include:

  • Requiring purchase of permits for everyday activities including planting trees, plowing soil or constructing buildings.
  • Prohibiting certain work including building a fence across a pond or dry ditch or applying weed killers on lawns or fields.

“These maps show the EPA’s plan to control a huge amount of private property across the country,” SST Committee Chairman U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, wrote in an Aug. 27 letter to the EPA. “While the agency marches forward with a rule that could fundamentally redefine Americans’ private property rights, the EPA kept these maps hidden.... It’s time to give Americans a chance to make up their own minds about the EPA’s intentions.”

The maps display surface water features including canals, ditches, lakes, ponds, reservoirs, swamps, washes and streams in the U.S. Streams are classified as perennial, intermittent and ephemeral (meaning areas that only hold water after a heavy rain).

If the EPA is allowed to adopt the WOTUS rule, it will expand the definition of navigable water to include all surface water features depicted on the maps. The EPA could then regulate areas including ponds, ditches and dry washes on private land, including farms, subdivisions and construction sites.

Comments on the rule will be accepted through Oct. 20. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, as of Aug. 27 more than 65 percent of comments the EPA had received were in favor of the rule, the vast majority coming from mass campaigns by five environmental groups.

Click here to submit your comment opposing the WOTUS rule.

Click here to view the maps.

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