NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

House Tries to Stop EPA Overreach

September 9, 2014

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new regulation in April that would redefine the definition of "water," changing what the agency can regulate under the Clean Air Act. Daren Bakst of the Heritage Foundation reports that the House of Representatives is considering a bill to overrule the agency's proposal.

The Clean Water Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate certain bodies of water. Owners of waters under the act's jurisdiction often must apply for permits before taking action that might affect such waters. If the EPA's authority under the CWA is expanded, the permitting process will be even more cumbersome. For example:

  • The EPA has proposed to regulate nearly all ditches, including those that are man-made.
  • The agency would even regulate land depressions that are dry for the majority of the year and which only fill with water when there is very heavy rain.

Among other things, H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014, would require the EPA to work with states and localities to develop a Clean Water Act proposal. Such an approach, Bakst writes, is consistent with the intent of the Clean Water Act, which begins, "It is the policy of the Congress to recognize, preserve, and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of States to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution, to plan the development and use (including restoration, preservation, and enhancement) of land and water resources."

While input from states is very important, Bakst writes that Congress ultimately needs to define what waters can be regulated under the Clean Air Act, otherwise regulators will continue to expand their power through rulemaking.

Source: Daren Bakst, "Bill Banning EPA's Proposed Attack on Property Rights Expected to Be Considered By House," Daily Signal, September 8, 2014.

 

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