On June 28, The Heritage Foundation will host a panel on Capitol Hill titled “Reducing the Regulatory Obstacles in Agriculture.” While government has imposed many regulatory obstacles on individuals and business owners in virtually every industry, those that farmers face are multiplying rapidly. As we’ve explained many times on Liberty Blog, one of the most obnoxious and costly is the illegal Waters of the United States rule (WOTUS). The WOTUS rule, to be enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers, puts a significant burden on property owners in agriculture as well as other industries.
The panel on June 28 follows an event that PLF co-sponsored with The Heritage Foundation last week highlighting the major victory for property owners in Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes (for more coverage on the Hawkes case, click here). In short, the Supreme Court ruled that property owners do have the right to their day in court to challenge final jurisdictional determinations (JDs) set by the Corps.
While the win is huge for property owners, it will be not be much help if the Waters of the United States regulation is not struck down (the rule’s effectiveness is currently stayed during litigation over its validity). The WOTUS rule would allow the Corps and EPA to claim federal jurisdiction of wetlands on just about any piece of property that gets wet at some point in the year – dry creek beds, ditches, drains, and puddle-like depressions, not to mention the creation of quarter-mile “buffer areas” around every waterway.
Under this broad interpretation of “wetlands,” EPA and the Corps have immense control over what property owners and farmers can do. These individuals are subject to years-long permitting processes, the threat of exorbitant fines and penalties, and uncertainty about what they can and cannot do on their property. Under the WOTUS rule, the use of private property could be subject to extremely costly permits or shut down entirely.
That’s why PLF has fought against these unconstitutional regulations and why we will continue to do so. Property rights are the cornerstone of liberty. And, as the Orange County Register said in their editorial on the Hawkes decision, “If the government controls the use of your property, who really owns it?”
Tomorrow’s panel is part of Heritage’s series “Farms and Free Enterprise: A Blueprint for Agricultural Policy.” The panel will feature a keynote address from former U.S. Secretary Agriculture John Block, and a discussion on reducing regulatory obstacles, followed by a reception. This event will be held at Rayburn House Office Building (45 Independence Ave, SW, Washington, DC), room 2203 at 2:30pm EDT.