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Legislators Oppose EPA's Clean Water Act Rulemaking

Legislators suggest EPA's rulemaking could expand CWA legislation to include ponds and other small bodies of water

Published on: Nov 19, 2013

Three legislators Friday submitted a letter to the White House asking the Administration to halt the Environmental Protection Agency's rulemaking in the Office of Budget and Management that would expand Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

The lawmakers, Sen. David Vitter R-La., Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., are asking OMB to send it back until a connectivity report that EPA claims will justify the rule has been fully reviewed and is given legitimate time for public input and scrutiny.

"If EPA moves forward with this draft rule, as they have already committed to, the property rights of millions of Americans would be at stake," said Vitter. He explained that expanded jurisdiction could become a "federal takeover" of all waters in the U.S.

Legislators suggest EPAs rulemaking could expand CWA legislation to include ponds and other small bodies of water
Legislators suggest EPA's rulemaking could expand CWA legislation to include ponds and other small bodies of water

"That includes your and your neighbor's pond in the backyard," he said.

Similar arguments have been filed by agricultural and livestock organizations, which protest the rulemaking on comparable grounds.

Previous rulemaking has failed

Multiple attempts by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expand their CWA jurisdiction have been struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States, legislators argued, as have multiple attempts to similarly redefine the CWA's jurisdiction in Congress.

"It is troubling to see EPA avoiding the scientific review process on their Connectivity report while redefining this major issue, especially after all the promises we've heard from the Agency about increasing transparency and aspiring to use the best available science," Vitter said.

Vitter and the lawmakers argue that the EPA's Connectivity report, which ties every body of water in the U.S. together, has not received public scrutiny, and the EPA has not allowed the Science Advisory Board to complete a critical peer review of the report.

They also note that EPA's commitment to the Connectivity report contradicts OMB and EPA peer review guidelines, and suggest that the CWA rulemaking is proceeding anyway.

Vitter is Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, while Goodlatte is Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, and Bachus is Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law.

Click here to read the letter.