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Senator Blunt Joins Colleagues To Block EPA Takeover Of Private, State Waters

April 30, 2015

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) today joined U.S. Senators John Barrasso (Wyo.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), and Pat Roberts (Kan.) in introducing the Federal Water Quality Protection Act. Click here to read the bill.

The bipartisan legislation will ensure the protection of traditional navigable waters of the United States. It also protects farmers, ranchers and private landowners by removing isolated ponds, ditches, agriculture water, storm water, groundwater, floodwater, municipal water supply systems, wastewater management systems, and streams from the list of water impacted by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule.

“This Administration’s intrusion into every corner of our lives has now reached even the puddles on our private property. Farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and landowners in Missouri and nationwide need less overreach from the Obama Administration into their private lives and property,” Blunt said. “This bipartisan bill directs the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to issue a reasonable rule that will preserve our navigable waterways and natural resources, while protecting Missourians from the Obama Administration’s brazen attempts to control their private property. I’ll continue to fight against the Obama Administration’s blatant overreach, and ensure Missourians have the certainty they need to do their jobs and the control they deserve over their own land.”

Blunt has a long record of fighting the Obama Administration’s proposed Waters of the United States rule. In June 2014, Blunt joined Barrasso and 28 of their colleagues to introduce the Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014, legislation that would prevent the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing their March 2014 proposed rule. In March 2015, Blunt also co-sponsored an amendment that was added to the FY2016 Senate budget to stop the Obama Administration from taking over all waters in the U.S.

Background on the Federal Water Quality Protection Act:

EPA and the Corps of Engineers have proposed to expand the scope of federal authority over land and water to encompass all water in a flood plain, manmade water management systems, and water that infiltrates into the ground or moves overland, and any other water that they decide has a “significant nexus” to downstream water based on use by animals, insects and birds and water storage considerations, shifting the focus of the Clean Water Act from water quality protection and navigable waters to habitat and water supply.

To address these concerns and to ensure protection of water for communities across the country, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act directs the agencies to issue a revised proposal that adheres to the following principles:

  • The Federal Water Pollution Control Act would protect traditional navigable waters from water pollution.
  • Waters of the U.S. under that Act should include:
    • Traditional navigable waters and interstate waters.
    • Streams identified on maps at the scale used by EPA to identify potential sources of drinking water.
    • Streams with enough flow to carry pollutants to a navigable water, based on a quantifiable and statistically valid measure of flow for that geographic area, and
    • Wetlands situated next to a water of the United States that protect water quality by preventing the movement of pollutants to navigable water.
    • Areas unlawfully filled without a required permit.
    • Waters of the U.S. should not include:
      • Water that is located below the surface of the land, including soil water and groundwater.
      • Water that is not located within a body of water (e.g., river, stream, lake, pond, wetland), including channels that have no bed, bank or ordinary high water mark or surface hydrologic connection to traditional navigable waters
      • Isolated ponds.
      • Stormwater and floodwater management systems.
      • Wastewater management systems.
      • Municipal and industrial water supply management systems.
      • Agricultural water management systems.
      • Streams that do not have enough flow to carry pollutants to navigable waters.
      • Prior converted cropland.
      • Areas lawfully filled pursuant to a permit or areas exempt from permitting.

In identifying waters of the U.S., the agencies are directed that the following do not provide a basis for asserting federal control:

  • The use of a body of water by an organism, including a migratory bird.
  • The supply of water to a groundwater aquifer and the storage of water in an isolated waterbody.
  • The water cycle, including the supply of water through evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, overland flow, and movement of water in an aquifer.

 To ensure that Corps and EPA carry out the important analyses and consultations that are designed to improve regulation, a new regulatory proposal must be developed employing the following:

  • Federalism consultation under Executive Order 13132.
  • Economic analyses under the Regulatory Flexibility Act.
  • Small business and small governmental entity review under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.
  • Review of the unfunded mandates under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
  • Compliance with Executive Orders 12866 and 13563, on improving regulation.

 



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