Wednesday, May 13, 2015

House passes bill to block EPA's 'Waters of the U.S.' rules, but short of veto-override number

The Republican-controlled House passed legislation Tuesday to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed water rules that are "aimed at redefining which streams, ponds, wetlands and other waterways are under its jurisdiction," Timothy Cama and Cristina Marcos report for The Hill. Legislation passed by a 261-155 vote. The Obama administration has threatened to veto any bill to kill water regulations, and the vote fell short of the two-thirds that would be needed to override a veto.

"The 'waters of the United States' rule, which the EPA plans to make final this spring, has led to charges the administration is dramatically expanding its powers over water and would regulate puddles, decorative ponds, ditches and dry creekbeds," Cama and Marcos writes. "The fiercest opposition to the EPA’s water rule has come from agriculture, ranchers, developers and other industries that use large swaths of land."

"They say the rule would put significant parts of their land under federal jurisdiction and make it subject to the Clean Water Act, potentially requiring permits for routine activities like filling in ditches or spraying fertilizer, and exposing them to litigation," Cama and Marcos write. EPA officials have said "the new rule is necessary to clear up confusion and to definitively say which minor waterways, like wetlands and tributaries, can be regulated. Democrats maintained the proposed rule would simply provide clarification for the federal government and localities." (Read more)

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