AGC Opposes Expansion of Federal Control Over Waters and Wetlands
Industry Groups Join Forces to Educate Congress on Clean Water Act Jurisdiction
AGC of America is a key participant in a newly-formed coalition—Waters Advocacy Coalition (WAC)—that is actively voicing its opposition to any legislative efforts to expand federal Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction (e.g., Section 404 permitting authority) over all waters within the United States, including all intrastate waters.
More than 20 industry groups, including AGC, have joined forces to educate Congress on the dangers of expanding the CWA beyond its original intent. The so-called WAC believes that federal control over waters within the United States has its limits; and those limits need to be clarified and consistently applied.
While the Supreme Court’s 2006 decision in Rapanos v. United States (126 S. Ct. 2208) failed to set forth one clear standard for CWA jurisdiction, the unifying theme of all Justices was not that the CWA needs to be amended, but rather that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should issue new regulations. However, legislation was introduced last year that would have granted the Corps and EPA virtually unlimited regulatory control over all “intrastate waters”—essentially all wet areas within a state, including groundwater, ditches, pipes, streets, gutters, and desert features. Moreover, the legislation would have granted these agencies unrestricted authority to regulate all activities (public or private) that may affect intrastate waters, regardless of whether the activity has any impact on any water at all.
Members of U.S. Congress are now poised to reintroduce similar legislation—called the Clean Water Authority Restoration Act (CWARA). AGC expects the CWARA to be introduced soon in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) and in the Senate by Senator Russ Fingold (D-Wisc.).
AGC and the coalition members have been meeting with U.S. congressional staff over the last few months to educate them on the impacts of changing the jurisdictional reach of the CWA and to oppose any legislative efforts to expand jurisdiction over all waters. AGC is concerned that the CWARA would result in unlimited federal regulatory authority over all intrastate waters, which would require enormous resources, exacerbate an existing funding gap, and lead to longer permitting delays. In addition, an expanded federal water program would place an unfunded mandate on states by increasing the number of waters subject to water quality standards, including the requirement to set Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs).
If you work in waters and wetlands, click here to urge your U.S. Representative to withhold support for the Clean Water Authority Restoration Act, which would regulate virtually every wet area in the nation.
To access AGC’s position paper—Oppose Expansion of Federal Control over Waters and Wetlands—click here. To access the WAC’s talking points on the dangers of expanding the CWA beyond its original intent click here.
WAC members include the following organizations: American Farm Bureau Federation; American Forest & Paper Association; Associated General Contractors of America; American Road & Transportation Builders Association; CropLife America; Edison Electric Institute; Foundation for Environmental and Economic Progress; International Council of Shopping Centers; National Association of Counties; National Association of Home Builders; National Association of Industrial and Office Properties; National Association of Manufacturers; National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; National Corn Growers Association; National Mining Association; National Multi Housing Council; National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association; and RISE – Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment.
For more information, contact Karen Bachman at (202) 547-4733 or email@example.com or Leah Pilconis (703) 837-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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