As of last week, more than 260 lawmakers, from both chambers and both parties, have come out publicly against the proposed rule on Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS). A group of 231 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers asking them to withdraw the proposed rule. In the letter, the representatives wrote “Although your agencies have maintained that the rule is narrow and clarifies CWA jurisdiction, it in face aggressively expands federal authority under the CWA while bypassing Congress and creating unnecessary ambiguity.” The House Appropriations Committee passed a bill last week funding the Energy Department and ACOE, which included a rider that would prohibit the ACOE from clarifying its jurisdictional authority over WOTUS. There is also a significant faction within the Senate that is displeased with the proposed rule. Thirty senators signed onto a bill introduced this week that would prevent the EPA and ACOE from moving forward with the rule.
Meanwhile, the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry held a public hearing to review the proposed rule. More specifically, the Subcommittee was concerned with the applicability of the agricultural exemptions under the Clean Water Act as a result of the rule. Testimony was provided by representatives of the farming industry as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In a statement released by the Committee, Chairman Glenn Thompson (R, Pennsylvania) said that “[t]here is growing concern of the newly proposed rule released by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps poses a grave threat to the economic vitality and ecological health of our farming communities. The Administration has argued this rule is intended to eliminate ambiguity and offer greater protections for producers and landowners, when in fact it will create new regulatory burdens, more ambiguity, and less certainty.
The EPA has recently announced a meeting of the Local Government Advisory Committee, in which state and local governments and Tribal officials can provide input on the proposed rule. The meeting with be held on July 10th at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Building, 77 Forsyth Street SW, in Atlanta, GA from 9:00 to 12:30. To RSVP, or for more information, please contact Frances Eargle at (202) 564-3115 or visit: www.epa.gov/ocirpage/scas_lgac_index.htm