The Environmental Protection Agency has long been considered a prime example of the worst of government overreach in the U.S., but one of its latest battles takes the cake.
Claiming that he violated its Waters of the U.S. Rule (WOTUS), the EPA is going after fourth-generation tree, vine, and wheat grower John Duarte for plowing his own land. Yes, you read that correctly.
The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers is attempting to prevent Duarte and farmers like him in California’s Central Valley from plowing the land, and as Duarte claims, they may be trying to chase them off their own land in order to turn it into habitat preservation.
As American Farm Bureau reports, farmers can plow as long as they don’t break the clay below the topsoil that keeps wetlands from draining.
John Duarte, President of Duarte Nursery, Inc., reportedly complied with this rule, but was still told by the Army Corps of Engineers to stop anyway. When he refused, and brought a lawsuit against them, they responded by counter-suing him and his company. They are seeking millions of dollars from Duarte simply for performing a routine farming procedure.
Pacific Legal Foundation is representing Duarte in the lawsuit. They are looking to preserve farmers’ rights, especially as it relates to utilization of private land.
Tony Francois, attorney for PLF, adamantly states that the EPA is not to be trusted when it comes to WOTUS:
“Anyone who’s being told not to worry about the new WOTUS rule, they should be thinking about this case . . . The very thing they are telling you not to worry about is what they are suing Duarte Nursery for doing – just plowing.”
Meanwhile, the United States government itself has expressed its strong disapproval of this EPA regulatory effort. The House of Representatives just today passed a joint resolution rejecting the EPA’s rule:
“Today, the House passed a joint resolution rejecting the President’s unconstitutional Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Disguised as a water cleanup measure, WOTUS is really an EPA power grab that threatens the livelihood of Americans who work the land to make a living. It would be an economic disaster. Thirty-two states are suing the federal government over the rule’s legality. Congress’ resolution aims to void WOTUS, restoring states as primary regulators of water. Having already passed the Senate, this WOTUS repeal bill will go right to the president’s desk, where he will have to choose between protecting either his job-killing regulation or the economy.”
Duarte’s case will go to trial in March of this year, and this trial will have a severe impact on how the public views the EPA and its controversial WOTUS rule. Despite EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s assurances that farmers are exempt from certain aspects of the rule, it has little support and has caused those in the agriculture community to distrust the federal government’s role in environmental regulation.
Do you feel that John Duarte has a strong defense against the EPA? Do you believe that the Waters of the U.S. Rule is ultimately bad for our country? Let us know in the comments.