From the June 2009 Idaho Observer:

Congress seeks to regulate rainwater under "Clean Water Restoration Act"

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 12, 2009—The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) today said S. 787, the Clean Water Restoration Act, leaves no water unregulated in the United States and could even impact standing water from rain in a dry area. The organization signed onto a letter on behalf of the Water Advocacy Coalition to Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) asking them to oppose the legislation.

"S. 787 would remove any bounds from the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction, so that the regulatory reach of the act would extend to all water -- anywhere from farm ponds, to storm water retention basins, to roadside ditches, to desert washes, to streets and gutters, even to a puddle of rainwater," stated the letter. "For the first time in the 36-year history of the act, activities that have no impact on actual rivers and lakes would be subject to full federal regulation."

According to AFBF, by applying the Clean Water Act to "all interstate and intrastate waters," farmers and ranchers would be significantly impacted due to the number of normal farming activities that would be subject to citizen-suit provisions of the Clean Water Act, which could lead to outright regulation.

"Not only would many activities not previously regulated require federal permits, those permits would be subject to challenge in federal court, delaying or halting these activities to the detriment of our economy," stated the letter.

AFBF also believes that by deleting the term "navigable" as a condition for regulation under the Clean Water Act, it would allow for an extraordinary expansion of federal jurisdiction, giving the federal government the right to exert inordinate control over private property, while opening the door for activists to sue landowners whose activities they don’t like.

The coalition letter signed by AFBF stated that the group supports the protection of U.S. navigable waters, as well as rivers and streams that flow to navigable waters. All of these are already protected under the Clean Water Act today.

Obama reinstates Clinton roadless rule

The Obama administration has imposed a one-year moratorium on building roads or logging in 49 million acres of national forest. The May 28 announcement reinstates a Clinton-era rule halting development in unceded state lands administered by the federal government. Idaho is not affected because it has adopted its own forest management plan under the watchful eyes of some 4,000 Canadian gray wolves.