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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Clean Water Act
by Oregonians for Food and Shelter 3/2/07

URGENT: Thanks to the Oregon Farm Bureau for passing this along to us.

Please call your Congressman ASAP and request they not support Congressman Oberstar's Clean Water legislation (HR 1356). See details below. We've attached the position of the American Farm Bureau. I've also included (at the end of this email) an article about former Congressman Richard Pombo.



Congressman James Oberstar is circulating draft legislation to amend the federal Clean Water Act and reportedly expand its jurisdiction. We have not seen a copy of the draft but have reason to believe that it is very similar to the bill (H.R. 1356) he introduced last Congress.


The previous Oberstar bill eliminated the word “navigable” from the definition of “waters of the United States.” If such a proposal were to become law, the result would be the most significant legislative expansion of the Clean Water Act since its adoption in 1972. Rep. Oberstar is now reportedly circulating the bill to obtain as large a number of bipartisan cosponsors as possible before the bill’s introduction. A vote in 2005 on the House floor indicates that there may well be 200 members who would consider supporting such an approach.

Among other things, the text of the previous Oberstar bill provides explicitly that “all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries” are subject to Clean Water Act regulation, “including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, natural ponds . . .” By using the term “including” the bill would likely be read by courts and federal agencies to mean the listed types of waters are simply examples and not a non-exclusive list. Therefore, ditches, pipes, man-made ponds, ephemeral drainages, desert washes, wet-farmland, drain tiles, treatment ponds and other features could be regulated as “intrastate waters” even though they
re not on the list.


We urge all State Farm Bureaus to contact their House delegations and request that they not sponsor the Oberstar measure. We will examine and evaluate the bill and its impact on agriculture and provide that to the states in the near future.


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