News Feature | April 25, 2014

Senate Republicans Fight EPA Clean Water Act Proposal

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Senate Republicans are fighting the EPA's effort to clarify the breadth of its authority over U.S. waters. 

"Senator Pat Toomey and 14 of his colleagues sent a letter to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy pointing out the dubious legal and scientific basis for [a proposed EPA rule] and asking for the maximum comment period to hear from affected Americans," according to a release from Toomey's office.

The senators see the proposal as a power grab, and they are pushing the EPA to reconsider. 

"In a letter, the senators faulted the EPA for announcing a proposed rule before the government's peer-reviewed scientific assessment was fully complete. They are calling on the government to withdraw the rule or give the public six months to review it, rather than the three months being provided," the Associated Press reported

The EPA argues that the rule is necessary because Supreme Court decisions make it unclear what the agency may regulate under the Clean Water Act. 

But the GOP senators said the proposal will not resolve this question. "This proposed rule will do little to clarify the ambiguities of Clean Water Act regulation," the letter said. 

The agriculture sector is not so keen on the rule, either. 

"The Obama administration is struggling to convince agribusinesses and farmers. Even the proposal's most ardent backers fret that the administration flubbed its effort to sow 'certainty,'" E&E News reported

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy recently defended the rule in an editorial published on the Huffington Post

"Some may think that this rule will broaden the reach of EPA regulations -- but that's simply not the case. Our proposed rule will not add to or expand the scope of waters historically protected under the Clean Water Act," she said. "In the end -- the increased clarity will save us time, keep money in our pockets, cut red tape, give certainty to business, and help fulfill the Clean Water Act's original promise: to make America's waters fishable and swimmable for all." 

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

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