Mar 26 2015

Senator Blunt Continues Fight To Block EPA Takeover Of Private, State Waters

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) applauded the U.S. Senate for passing an amendment yesterday that he co-sponsored in the FY2016 budget debate to stop the Obama Administration from taking over all waters in the United States.

The provision, which was introduced by U.S. Senator John Barrasso (Wyo.), establishes a spending-neutral reserve fund to ensure federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA) is focused on water quality, which may include limiting federal jurisdiction based on certain criteria. To read the amendment text, please click here.

“The Obama Administration has no business regulating puddles, ditches, and ponds across Missouri. I’m fighting the EPA’s proposed water rule because it would hurt Missouri farm families, home construction, job creation, roads, and energy development,” said Blunt. “I’m pleased the Senate passed this important provision, and I’ll keep working with my colleagues to protect Missourians from the Obama Administration’s blatant overreach and unprecedented power grab.”

In June 2014, Blunt joined Barrasso and 28 of their colleagues to introduce the Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014, legislation to stop the EPA from taking over all private and state water in the United States. The bill prevents the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing their March 2014 proposed rule, which would significantly expand federal authority under the CWA.

Additional Background Information:

On March 25, 2014, EPA and the Corps released their proposed rule redefining “waters of the United States” under the CWA. The term “waters of the United States” is the CWA’s threshold provision which determines whether the law’s permitting and regulatory requirements apply to a particular waterbody.

If finalized, the rule would represent a massive land grab by the federal government, since few water bodies would escape the agencies’ broad definition of “waters of the United States.” The proposal effectively eliminates the CWA’s “navigable waters” provision, which Congress included to guarantee limits to federal authority.

The proposed rule would provide EPA, the Corps, as well as environmental groups with a powerful tool to delay and prevent development and land use activities on property owned by homeowners, farms, small businesses, and municipalities. Federal bureaucrats—and not state and local authorities—could assert control over thousands of streams, creeks, wetlands, ponds, and ditches throughout the country.

The proposed rule is the agencies’ latest attempt to achieve unlimited regulatory authority over local waterbodies. During the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) debate in 2013, 52 Senators voted to support an amendment prohibiting a similar effort by the agencies to expand their jurisdiction through a “guidance” document.

The Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014 updates the WRDA amendment supported by a majority of Senators so that it now prevents finalization of the agencies’ proposed rule. It also tracks the WRDA amendment’s “similar circumstances” provision by preventing EPA and the Corps from using the proposed rule or any substantially similar rule or guidance document in any other rulemaking or regulatory decision.