House bill would halt expansion of water regs
Legislation was introduced in the House Friday to halt the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers’ attempts to illegally expand federal power under the Clean Water Act and extend the government’s regulatory reach to every ditch, puddle and pond in the country.
Leaders of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Agriculture Committee introduced H.R. 4965, a bill to prohibit the Obama Administration from finalizing or implementing the EPA and Corps Clean Water Act “guidance” in order to significantly broaden the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Act. This guidance would allow the unprecedented regulation of waters, occasionally wet areas and land use decisions not previously subject to federal regulation. Any regulatory expansion under the Clean Water Act must follow proper, transparent rulemaking procedures – not the unlawful, backdoor conversion of publicly unvetted agency guidance into de facto federal regulation.
“The Obama Administration is doing everything in its power to increase costs and regulatory burdens for American businesses, farmers, and individual property owners,” said the bill’s sponsor, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-Fla.). “This federal jurisdiction grab has been opposed by Congress for years, and now the Administration and its agencies are ignoring law and rulemaking procedures in order to tighten their regulatory grip over every water body in the country. But this Administration needs to realize it is not above the law.”
“The public has a right to be heard on federal actions affecting their lives,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall II (D-WV). “The voices of our constituents should, and must, have an impact on the decision-making process; yet, here again, the EPA is seeking to impose its will via interim guidance and then asking for the public’s views after the fact. This method of operation leaves citizens with little faith that the government understands or cares about the effect its actions have on their lives, and it leads to unworkable, inequitable Federal regulations that undermine the People’s faith in their own government.”
“The new authorities granted in this guidance would allow the EPA and the Corps of Engineers the authority to regulate almost any body of water in the U.S.,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). “That means farm ponds, stock tanks, and seasonal runoff ditches could conceivably be included under new regulations. The economic impact on farmers, ranchers, and rural communities would be devastating. This legislation allows us to restore and protect our natural resources by working together and balancing state and federal authority. President Obama and his EPA must stop this pattern of over-regulation and intrusion into individual and state rights.”