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EPA Violates Statutory Authority--Attempts Water Grab

Feds Seek Control Over Ponds, Puddles and Ditches

I have previously written about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to wrongly assert jurisdiction over nearly all waters of the United States.  The Administration's action, which is taken without statutory authority, undermines states' constitutional water sovereignty, threatens the nation's economy and encroaches on private landowners' ability to utilize their property.  This misguided proposed rule must be withdrawn.

Now, federal small business advocates are among the critics of the rule and are calling for its withdrawal.  In a letterto the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) reinforced the concerns raised by many Americans.  SBA advocacy concluded, "The rule will have a direct and potentially costly impact on small businesses.  The limited economic analysis which the agencies submitted with the rule provides ample evidence of a potentially significant economic impact."  SBA advocacy explained these concerns and recommended that the agencies withdraw the rule and conduct a Small Business Advocacy Review panel before proceeding any further with this rulemaking. 

Under our constitutional system, the states, not the federal government, have always had primary jurisdiction over the allocation, management and use of water.  The federal government's jurisdiction has been limited under the Clean Water Act (CWA)to navigable waters.  In an unjustified manner, the federal government is seeking to assert jurisdiction over all waters of the United States through a rule proposed by the EPA and the Corps to revise the definition of "waters of the United States" under the federal CWA.  If made final, the EPA's action would significantly expand federal authority, allowing the agency to regulate nearly every stream, ditch, pond, puddle and other local water bodies. 

It is past time to heed the concerns that the agencies have received and withdraw the rule.  Members of Congress are not letting up in opposition to the rule.  I recently joined Senate colleagues in again raising the ongoing concerns with the rule and addressing the many inaccurate claims made by EPA about the merits of the overregulation.  We called on the EPA and Corps to "reverse course, withdraw the proposed rule, and commit to working more cooperatively with interested stakeholders in future regulatory proceedings." 

This recent action is part of my ongoing efforts withSenate colleagues to oppose this federal water grab and urge the Administration to change course.  I joined 37 Senators, including fellow Idaho Senator Jim Risch, in co-sponsoring S. 2496, the Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014, that would prohibit the EPA and the Corps from finalizing the proposed rule.  I continue to work with my colleagues to attach this important legislation to bills under consideration by the full Senate. 

The EPA's jurisdictional grab of our waterways violates its statutory authority and congressional intent.  Past legislation to achieve this jurisdictional expansion by statute has not been enacted into law.  I have helped blockit in the U.S. Senate.  Further, the water grab is harmful to our economy, undermines state water sovereignty and infringes on property rights.  The Administration must demonstrate that the extensive concerns it has received are heard and withdraw the rule.    

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