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Wisconsin Farm Bureau fights proposed Clean Water Act expansion


MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is calling the Environmental Protection Agency to back off of a new plan to expand the reach of the Clean Water Act.

Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation Governmental relations director Karen Gefvert says the new plan would allow the EPA to regulate parts of properties that have intermittent standing water. "Ditches that are built for extreme rain events, small streams that are not wet throughout the year, puddles in farm fields" That could also cover man-made ponds and lakes on a farm.

Gefvert says that is a direct attempt from the EPA to exert control over new parts of property they cannot currently regulate. "If any part of the land has standing water in it or is wet, they want to be able to control how that land is used." She says the move could allow the EPA to dictate to farmers how they can use their fields, or what structures they could build or what sorts of crops they plant.

Gefvert says the Supreme Court has already ruled against expansion of the Clean Water Act twice before. "We would like those two Supreme Court cases to continue to cover what the EPA currently covers and not expand their jurisdictional capacity."

Current rules under the Clean Water Act only cover bodies of water that make up significant land features like rivers, lakes and streams.