EPA Clean Water Proposal Generates Bipartisan Opposition

Democrats joined Republicans Wednesday on Capitol Hill to grill the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers about their plans to broaden their jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

What the agencies call a way to “strengthen protections for the clean water that is vital to all Americans,” is increasingly being seen as regulatory overreach on both sides of the aisle.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy testified about their plan to change the definitions of “Waters of the United States” before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Regulators say they want to bring clarity to the rule. And while McCarthy said federal jurisdiction would not be extended to isolated ponds or artificial waterbodies designed to control stormwater, the language of the proposed changes is still murky.

“Not only does this EPA proposal hurt the middle class, but it also tramples state and local government rights,” said Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), in a press release after the hearing. “It is another attempt by the administration to do an end-run around Congress, and it shows complete disregard for the people who will be forced to face the impact of this drastic overreach.”

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington, D.C.), said she’s looking for assurance that the city’s sewer pipes and stormwater systems don’t fall under EPA jurisdiction rather than the city.

The agency has not set a date for release of the final rule. For additional information, contact Environmental Policy Program Manager Owen McDonough at 800-368-5242 x8662 or Federal Legislative Director Courtney Briggs at x8459.

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