Tipton Questions USDA’s Water Claims

SCOTT-TIPTON-300Yesterday, Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) questioned U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Robert Bonnie during a House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing to review the Interpretive Rule Regarding the Applicability of Clean Water Act Agricultural Exemptions. During the hearing, Tipton contested Bonnie’s claims that agriculture producers’ access to water would be protected as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempts to expand its regulatory reach through a proposed rule that redefines “waters of the United States” from “navigable” waterways to virtually every form of surface water.  Tipton emphasized that while the EPA Clean Water Act Rule covers all surface water, a new proposed Forest Service Groundwater Directive will expand that agency’s regulatory overreach to include all groundwater-including access to streams and tributaries that feed into it. Combined, these two administrative actions could drastically restrict farmers and ranchers from accessing their water rights on all fronts.  During the hearing, Tipton contested Bonnie’s claim that the Interpretive Rule to the EPA’s proposed Clean Water Rule (put forward without any public comment) would protect farmers’ and ranchers’ access to water, and pointed out that the Forest Service Groundwater Directive would essentially negate any “protections” the Interpretive Rule provides.  You can see video of the exchange below.  Pictured:  Scott Tipton