Friday, July 15, 2011

House votes to block EPA on water pollution

The House on Wednesday approved legislation to smack down the Obama administration’s water pollution policies, despite a looming veto threat from the White House. The chamber voted 239-184 to adopt a bipartisan bill that seeks to limit EPA’s authority over state water quality decisions after recent agency actions have irked lawmakers, particularly in coal states and in Florida. Backers of the bill sent a loud message that they’re not pleased with recent EPA water policies, including a January veto of a West Virginia mining permit and new nutrient pollution standards in Florida. “The action that we’ve seen from EPA has unleashed an unprecedented backlash,” said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) “Everyone has called this a huge power grab by EPA and EPA has indeed created a regulatory nightmare that affects almost every state in the union.” The bill is one of several recent House efforts to limit the Obama administration’s water pollution policies, including a series of riders attached to the fiscal 2012 Interior-EPA spending bill. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the ranking member on the transportation panel and co-author of the bill, accused EPA of “strong-arming the states” on water permits and of creating an “atmosphere of worry, of distrust and of bitterness.”...more

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