Bob Goodlatte: It’s about the law

Goodatte: Congressional intent cannot be ignored

bob goodlatteListen carefully and you’ll hear the sound of bureaucrats scrambling to finalize a flood of new regulations before the end of the year. In fact, the White House chief of staff has promised that President Obama will “do audacious executive action” in his final year in office. This stream of costly, complex federal regulations has touched nearly every aspect of our lives, but regulations coming out of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been some of the most egregious, and at times they’ve ignored the intent of laws enacted by Congress.

The EPA’s Waters of the United States rule is a prime example of the federal government unnecessarily telling states and localities what is best. This rule expands the EPA’s authority over virtually all waters and wet areas in the country, and undermines the role of the states as partners in regulating the nation’s waters as intended by the Clean Water Act. Not only does the rule contradict congressional intent when writing the law, but the costs of this unworkable overreach would hit farmers, small businesses, municipalities, and local economies in the Sixth District squarely in the pocketbook.

Just a few weeks ago, in a bipartisan fashion, Congress sent a resolution to the President’s desk that would block the Waters of the U.S. rule and prohibit regulators from enacting a similar rule. Rather predictably, President Obama wasted no time vetoing this resolution. While Congress will continue working to push back against this rule, in October a federal court temporarily blocked implementation until legal challenges against it are resolved.

There is no argument about whether or not we should take steps to protect America’s waterways. But, it’s about the law. It’s not currently, nor has it ever been, within the Executive Branch’s purview to change the intent of the law. We must keep a watchful eye on the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution, and stop the EPA from running roughshod.

Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth District of Virginia in Congress.

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