Water war: State senators blast EPA’s ‘end-run’ rule

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Virginia’s 21 Republican state senators say a “Waters of the United States” rule targets farmers and could cost the state and landowners untold millions of dollars.

Sen. Ben Chafin, R-Lebanon, called the proposed regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “an attempted end-run around Congress and two Supreme Court rulings.”

“(It) would significantly expand the scope of ‘navigable waters’ subject to the Clean Water Act jurisdiction by regulating small and remote waters,” the senators stated in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

“By increasing federal jurisdiction over lands, the rule would establish federal power to regulate farming and other land uses,” wrote Chafin, an attorney and farmer who sits on the state Senate’s Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.

No Democratic senators signed the letter. State Sen. Chap Petersen’s office said the Fairfax Democrat had “never heard” from Republicans about the issue.

Speaking to Virginia ranchers and farmers, Chafin said, “Ditches and small ponds on your farm would be considered waters that are under the nearly unlimited jurisdiction of the EPA.”

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