Senate Bill Would Prevent EPA Regulatory Land Grab

Filed in Advocacy, Codes and Standards by on May 1, 2015 3 Comments

Farm Bureau 1Bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate yesterday would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from implementing a proposed rule that could result in millions of acres of private property to be regulated as wetlands under the Clean Water Act.

“NAHB strongly supports this legislative fix championed by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) that would prevent the agencies from greatly expanding the federal government’s role in regulating our nation’s waters,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods. “If this rulemaking were to go into effect, it would do little to help the environment and lead to a more costly permitting process, drive up the price of housing, infringe on states’ rights and hurt job growth.”

EPA and the Corps’ proposal to significantly expand the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act is so broad that it could be interpreted to include almost any water body, such as ditches, mudflats or isolated ponds.

“Not only would this exacerbate regulatory uncertainty, it would vastly extend the areas in which home builders and other landowners are required to obtain wetlands permits,” said Woods. “These permits can cost upwards of $270,000 and take many years to obtain. Ultimately, these higher compliance and transaction costs will make homes more expensive and could force potential buyers out of the marketplace.”

Similar to legislation (H.R. 1732) pending in the House, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S. 1140) would require the agencies to withdraw their proposal and resubmit a new plan only after they complete the following regulatory requirements that are designed to ensure a fair and balanced rule:

  • Consult with state and local governments
  • Confer with business stakeholders
  • Comply with the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act
  • Produce an accurate cost-benefit analysis

Unlike its House counterpart, the Senate bill would also establish new parameters for identifying a water of the U.S.

NAHB is urging the Senate to act swiftly to advance this bill.

We Need Your Help

The House is expected to vote on H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, during the week of May 11. The bill would require the EPA and Corps to withdraw its proposed water rule and engage in the proper rulemaking process. It compels the agencies to develop a more meaningful and balanced proposal to protect the nation’s waterways without trampling states’ rights and triggering additional expensive and time-consuming permitting and regulatory requirements for home building and other industries.

Call or write your members of Congress now and urge them to support H.R. 1732. You can call your federal lawmakers at (866) 924-NAHB (6242) or write them at

Additional Resources:

Why Congress Should Act Now on the “Waters of the U.S.” Rule

Talking Points for H.R. 1732





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Comments (3)

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  1. Leo Keane says:

    I am a builder, NAHB member and environmentalist. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers proposed definitions of juristictional waterways in Section 404 of the Clean Water Act would not be a “land grab.” It is rather a clarification of waters of the US that should be considered for protection as important for flood control, aquifer stabilization, erosion control and particularly as vital wildlife habitat. I believe we must have some control over the development of both private and public waterways in order to maintain healthy, functional and biologically diverse ecosystems across our nation. The permitting process is important for this reason; keeping track of what’s being developed, allowing for mitigation of lost wetlands, and even in some cases compensation for private waterways that must not be developed but preserved. Therefor I do not support the so-called “fix” as supported by the NAHB that would “prevent the agencies from ‘greatly’ expanding the federal governments role in regulating our nation’s waters.”

  2. Dohn Broadwell, Jr. says:

    Lee, as a developer, I’m automatically suspicious when the EPA attempts to “clarify” a rule.

    It seems to me that it’s a clarification that has been put forth by the feds so that they don’t have to negotiate with those pesky state regulators over jurisdiction. In other words, the federal regulators want their territory, and therefore their regulatory power, clarified by rule making, rather than by the courts.

    I agree with the headline. It’s a backdoor land grab.

    • Ron Kersten says:

      Having lived in an area where 4000-6000 homes were built in flood plane under local, state, and investor control, it is hard to understand why there should be less control. and why it should be left to the individuals who created the problems in the past!

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