News Feature | July 17, 2014

EPA's Clean Water Act Proposal Questioned By Both Democrats, Republicans

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

congressreg

After the EPA released a contentious plan to extend its jurisdiction over U.S. waters, it is not just the right that's balking at the plan. 

Democrats appear to be questioning the merit of the proposal, as well. During a June meeting of House lawmakers on the Transportation Committee, one such Democrat spoke up. 

West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall, the committee's top Democrat, "came out swinging against the rule, saying the EPA’s contention that it is simply clarifying existing regulations finds 'a high level of distrust' in Congress," The Hill reported.

“This committee is right to view this proposal with skepticism,” Rahall said, per the report. 

Bob Perciasepe, deputy EPA administrator, testified in favor of the rule change at the same hearing. "The foundation of the agencies’ rulemaking efforts to clarify protection under the CWA is the goal of providing clean and safe water to all Americans," he said in his prepared testimony. "The agencies’ proposed rule helps to protect the nation’s waters, consistent with the law and currently available scientific and technical expertise," he said. 

The EPA has proposed a rule to clarify the definition of “waters of the United States.” The agency said in a statement of its agenda for 2014 that the scope of waters protected under the clean water act has become “an issue of considerable debate and uncertainty.”  The definition would benefit from “additional clarification through rulemaking,” the statement said. Check out an EPA science report on this issue here

The agency announced the rule change in April, and it will remain up for public comment until October. 

The powerful farm lobby is leading the fight against the proposal. 

“The bottom line is that the expansion of the waters regulated under the Clean Water Act has enormous implications for small business entities that the agencies have not considered, much less explained,” Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation said in the Hill report. 

(Watch a video of the hearing here.) 

For more on policy and politics, check out Water Online's Legislation and Regulations Solution Center

Image credit: "capitol hill," Elliott P. © 2007, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license:  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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