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Water act expansion opposed

October 16, 2012
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - The Fulton County Board of Supervisors, the Fulton County Farm Bureau and the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency all recently approved resolutions formally opposing regulatory expansion of the Federal Clean Water Act.

Supervisors last week approved a resolution at the County Office Building opposing expansion of the 1972 act. The resolution states the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are trying to expand their authority.

The act limits federal jurisdiction of "navigable waters" of the United States. Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions affirmed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Water Act jurisdiction over "navigable waters" is limited and doesn't extend to all waters. But the board resolution says the EPA and Army Corps want to expand their authority granted by Congress and drafted guidelines identifying waters protected by the act.

The resolution stated those guidelines could create "uncertainty and confusion and would make a significant number of public works activities and transportation infrastructure subject to the Clean Water Act and its costly and time-consuming permitting and regulatory protocols."

Bleecker Supervisor David Howard called the proposed expansion of the act "onerous." He said the act will regulate "puddles after a rainstorm."

"This expansion is not by legislation," said Perth Supervisor Greg Fagan. "It's by bureaucracy - unelected bureaucrats."

Supervisors' action last week followed the farm bureau's recent formal opposition to Clean Water Act expansion. The bureau's opposition extends to expanding regulations to all waters, including: groundwater, pipes, farm and stock ponds, ditches, culverts, erosional features and cropland. The bureau also feels the regulatory expansion could include more permits, restriction on the use of nutrients, burdensome federal oversight of state and local water quality programs, and regulatory and legal barriers to routine business decisions.

The IDA also recently approved its own resolution to "go on record opposing any jurisdictional expansion" of the act. The IDA also directed agency Executive Director James Mraz to send letters to the EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers and to New York's senators and congressmen advising them of the IDA's opposition.

The IDA resolution says the EPA and Army Corps are "trying to expand the jurisdictions of the Clean Water Act authority over wet areas and even dry areas on private lands through changes to federal regulations and not through legislative changes."

Following IDA action, Mraz said his agency feels this is an "unnecessary" expansion of federal authority. He said the federal government already struggles to issue permit approval paperwork in a "timely manner."

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at



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