January 25, 2016

Working To Nullify EPA Water Grab

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

The states, not the federal government, have always had primary jurisdiction over the allocation, management and use of water.  This management must remain with the states not seized by federal bureaucrats thousands of miles away and disconnected from the issues on the ground.  The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation, previously passed by the U.S. Senate with my support, that would block the Administration's harmful attempt to exert jurisdiction over virtually all of our water. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) "Waters of the United States" Rulesets a dangerous precedent, subverts state water sovereignty and jeopardizes private property rights by significantly expanding federal authority-allowing the EPA to regulate nearly every stream, ditch, pond and puddle on state and local lands, as well as private property.  The courts have repeatedly rebuked similar efforts to hand authority over virtually all of our nation's waters over to the federal government.  Additionally, I have helped block past legislation in the U.S. Senate to exert federal control over non-navigable waters. 

Without congressionally-authorized authority, the Administration has been side-stepping Congress and the American people to seize control of our water.  Congress reiterated its opposition to the Administration ignoring the will of Congress and the American people by passing S.J.Res. 22, a joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval of the "Waters of the United States" Rule.  The House of Representative's recent passage of the resolution by a vote of 253-166 follows the Senate's November passage of the resolution by a vote of 53-44. 

The Congressional Review Act provides Congress with specified procedures to overturn federal rules put forward by the Administration, and S.J.Res. 22 utilizes this authority.  To block the rule from taking effect, both the Senate and the House must pass the joint resolution, and the resolution must be signed by the President, or Congress must override a presidential veto.  The President should have demonstrated that he is listening to Congress and the American people by signing the resolution and discontinuing the rule, but instead he chose to veto the resolution.  Therefore, work continues to stop the rule.   

Passage of the joint resolution of disapproval also follows movement of legislation with similar goals in both chambers of Congress.  For example, last May, the House passed legislation requiring the Administration to withdraw the rule.  As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I supported the committee's passage of similar legislation.  Fellow Idaho Senator Jim Risch and I are co-sponsors of S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, that would prevent implementation of the final "Waters of the United States" Rule and direct the EPA and Corps to redo the final rule.  Any new rule must adhere to the principles that waters of the U.S. are limited to truly navigable waters. 

I will continue to use every opportunity to permanently block this harmful rule, and I encourage all those interested in this federal overreach to stay engaged on this EPA overreach.  Clean water remains a necessity, but EPA's jurisdictional grab of our waterways violates its statutory authority and congressional intent and must be stopped.  

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