Golf industry tees off on Obama's EPA

Golf industry tees off on Obama's EPA
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The golf industry is pushing back on an Obama administration proposal that deals with the government's jurisdiction over bodies over water.

The controversial rule, proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers in March, asserts the two agencies' authorities over the majority of the nation's streams and wetlands.

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A handful of leading golf groups on Tuesday, including PGA of America, National Club Association, and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), joined a Waters Advocacy Coalition of 35 other organizations to fight the EPA's Waters of the U.S. proposal.

"We support the Clean Water Act and can see that there is a need to clarify some of the jurisdictional questions, but this proposed regulation goes too far," said Mark Johnson, of the golf course association.

The organizations claim the rule would expand the EPA and Army Corps jurisdiction to include all drainage ditches, storm water ditches, and water storage, as well as treatment ponds on golf courses.

Such an expansion, the golf industry says, would add unnecessary regulatory burdens and costs that would prevent golf course managers from fighting "routine erosion" and keeping up with "best management practices."

The EPA's proposal has drawn a firestorm of opposition from farmers and agriculture groups that fear the government will soon be policing their lands. Republicans have railed against the rule, calling it a massive land grab.

The House is set to vote on legislation Tuesday that would block the EPA's proposal. The bill is expected to sail to passage, but chances of it reaching the Senate floor are slim.

The EPA has said the proposal would not expand its authority to protect new types of waters that have been exempt in the past.

“We are clarifying protection for the upstream waters that are absolutely vital to downstream communities," EPA chief Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyTrump plans to roll back environmental rule everyone agrees on EPA chief to visit Colorado mine spill site In the fight between Rick Perry and climate scientists, Perry is winning MORE said when the agency announced the regulation.

The National Wildlife Federation, which supports the EPA's move to clarify its authority, says the proposal "specifically excludes many man-made ditches, ponds, an irrigation systems."

The coalition of golf associations, farmers, energy stakeholders and more say the rule should be overturned if the EPA finalizes its proposal without significant changes.

"The golf industry is a leader for water quality and environmental stewardship," said Chava McKeel, associate director for GCSAA. "This proposed rule hinders the golf industry in moving forward toward even stronger best management practices."

The EPA and Army Corps are currently gathering comments from the public on the new standards. That should wrap up in October. The EPA will then work to finalize the proposal by the middle of next year.