Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Protecting U.S. Waterways from the EPA (S. 1140)

Today, the Senate will begin floor debate to overturn the Waters of the U.S.  (WOTUS) rulemaking by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Leading the charge is Senator Barrasso who authored the Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S.1140). The bill directs the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to issue a revised WOTUS rule that does not include terms such as “isolated ponds, ditches, agriculture water, storm water, groundwater, floodwater, municipal water supply systems, wastewater management systems, and streams without enough flow to carry pollutants to navigable waters.” The bill is intended to protect private landowners from significant and unnecessary federal overreach.  The controversial water pollution rule embodies the EPA expanding the term “navigable waters”; those that fall under the purview of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Under current definitions, the EPA has the authority to unilaterally enact regulation on bodies of water on private property, particularly ones utilized by ranchers and farmers to facilitate their needs such as ponds, ditches, and irrigation. Basically the EPA will have authority over your backyard.  In May, the House voted to pass a similar bill, H.R. 1732, the “Regulatory Protection Act” which is currently awaiting Senate approval. In April, S.980 was introduced by Senators Paul, Cruz and Rubio entitled the “Defense of Environment and Property Act of 2015.” Both bills are currently stalled in the Senate and presumably have the same veto fate as S.1140...more

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