Senators Introduce Amendment to Block Federal Land and Water Grab
Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) filed an amendment Nov. 10 to the Energy and Water Appropriations “Minibus” that would stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) from finalizing a complex rulemaking that would greatly expand the federal government’s permitting authority over state and private land and water resources. AGC has fought several legislative and regulatory attempts in recent years to expand the reach of federal Clean Water Act “wetlands” permit coverage.
The Barrasso/Heller amendment will block EPA’s efforts to fast-track its proposed guidance document with minimal public involvement and without congressional oversight. The guidance would make a complex process more complex and it will drastically expand the number of permits that will be required. It would expand the definition of “waters of the U.S.” to include ditches and other locations where water flows only during, and for a short duration after, rain and snow falls. Never before in the history of the Clean Water Act has federal regulation defined these places as “waters of the U.S.”
The implications for construction are significant, particularly given the four million miles of roads – and their ditches – in the U.S. Under the draft guidance, presumably any and all construction work on these roads would require costly and time consuming permits by the federal government before work could begin.
Moreover, expanding federal control over water would interfere with the ability of individual landowners to develop building or infrastructure projects, including housing, schools, hospitals, roads, highways, agriculture and energy facilities.
The Senate stopped debate on the Energy and Water Appropriations bill prior to Thanksgiving. There are currently no plans to bring it back up.
For more information on EPA and the Corp’s effort to circumvent Congress and fast-track regulation, click here.
For more information, please contact Karen Lapsevic at 202-547-4733 or email@example.com.
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