NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The EPA Wants to Control All Waters of the United States

February 25, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to regulate all "waters of the United States (WOTUS)." Should the WOTUS proposal withstand legislative and legal challenges, the EPA's reach will affect farms, ranches, orchards, mines and timber industries, having jurisdiction over millions of acres of private property. Seen as an attempt to establish a federal zoning system, the newly acquired authority could require land owners to request permits to conduct routine tasks.

According to the Clean Water Act (CWA), the EPA's current jurisdiction extends only to navigable waters. Those waters include rivers, bays and shipping channels but now they want to regulate ditches, stock ponds and areas that are periodically wet due to rain and snow.

While EPA supporters insist the proposal is a necessary step to resolve questions over which waters are covered in the Clean Water Act, the American Farm Bureau, the National Home Builders Association and the National Mining Association see it as nothing more than federal overreach.

Congress could prevent the EPA's power grab by passing the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, which blocks the EPA from reinterpreting the limitations defined in the Clean Water Act. Congress could take further action by passing a spending bill that would withhold funding from WOTUS.

Source: Bonner R. Cohen, "EPA Presses Forward with Controversial WOTUS Rulemaking," Heartland Institute, February 23, 2015. 


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