The EPA under the Obama administration has carried out an aggressive regulatory agenda. In April, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers issued a proposed rule to expand the scope of the term “waters of the United States,” which are those waters that are regulated under theClean Water Act. This move would seem to dramatically expand the EPA’s authority over regulating waterways and place even more small streams, creeks, manmade ponds, and seasonally-wet areas under the agency’s control.
Congress intended the states and federal government to implement the Clean Water Act as a federal-state partnership, but this rule would hinder that partnership and expand regulatory overreach. Plus, the EPA cannot re-write the law, expanding their jurisdiction at a whim. Only Congress can grant that authority.
The Waters of the U.S. rule would have an impact on numerous industries and jobs and has drawn criticism from many groups. Interestingly enough, just last week, the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy even asked the EPA to withdraw the pending rule stating concerns that the rule will have “a direct and potentially costly impact on small businesses.”
The economic impacts and uncertainty caused by the Waters of the U.S. rule made it clear that Congress must act to stop the EPA from expanding the scope of the law. In response, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, with overwhelming bipartisan support. This legislation, which I cosponsored, also upholds the federal-state partnership and requires that federal agencies consult with state and local officials to put together recommendations for a regulatory proposal.
The impact of the Waters of the U.S. rule on farmers, landowners, local economies, and jobs is very real. Protecting America’s waterways is critical, but continued power grabs by the EPA is not the solution. It’s time to ditch this rule.