EPA, Corps effort to ill-define “Waters of the United States” harms farmers, foresters
WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 13, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Federal water regulators seeking to greatly expand their reach into small ponds, puddles and ditches on private lands would be forced to abandon their scheme under a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday.
H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, would block a proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers redefining “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act to include all manner of small areas water collects or could collect, such as ditches, puddles and small ponds. Republicans and Democrats alike have criticized the overreaching rule because it threatens to erode private property rights and unnecessarily harm farmers, foresters and other family landowners.
U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL), a fierce critic of the EPA’s & Corps’ proposed rule and a co-sponsor of H.R. 1732, said the bill’s passage is a major step in the right direction.
“I’ve heard from countless farmers, foresters and families in Alabama who are under threat of being aggressively and unnecessarily penalized by federal water regulators,” Rep. Roby said. “Trying to expand the definition of navigable waters to include puddles and ditches has never made sense. It reeks of a radical environmental agenda being forced on Americans, and Congress is right to take steps to stop it.
“What you are starting to see is significant bi-partisan opposition to this aggressive, unnecessary regulation. We all want to ensure rules are followed to keep our waters clean. But, making puddles and ditches subject to inspection just to expand the reach of federal regulators has nothing to do with clean water.”
H.R. 1732 instructs the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to abandon their current proposed rule and start the rule making process over, seeking input from those who would be affected: state and local governments, and farmers and private landowners, among others.
In late April, the House included in its fiscal year 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations bill a provision that would block funding from being used to develop, adopt, implement or enforce the proposed new rule.
The Senate is expected to consider legislation similar to H.R. 1732. During consideration of the Budget Resolution last week, the Senate approved, with strong bi-partisan support, an amendment demonstrating its intent to block the water regulatory scheme.
The final vote on H.R. 1732 was 261-155.