On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-9 along party lines to reverse the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent Clean Water Rule that placed small rivers and streams under the control of the federal government.
The main concern from Committee Member Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) and the bill’s main sponsor is that the Obama Administration’s rule puts large swaths of privately owned land under the control of the EPA for “clean water” purposes. The extension would put dry creek beds, puddles, man-made ponds and agricultural ditches under federal control. A main concern for many land owners is having to get federal approval before making changes to their property.
According to Barrasso, the rule would put a full quarter of the water in the United States under federal control.
“This is legislation that will protect our nation’s navigable waterways and the streams and wetlands that help keep our navigable waters clean,” he said, calling his bill “bipartisan, pro-environmental protection, pro-small business legislation.”…
“It’s possible to have reasonable regulations to help preserve our waterways while still respecting the difference between state waters and federal waters,” Barrasso said.
The bill passed on Wednesday will force the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to revisit the Clean Water Rule and rewrite it with attention to specific provisions. The federal government should concentrate on navigable waterways and leave the smaller rivers, and streams to local authorities. Stand alone pools are to be left out of the EPA’s purview as well. The bill also will require the EPA to consult with local governments before rewriting the rules.
“This bipartisan legislation would stop the final rule and make the EPA and the Corps of Engineers go back and redo it,” [Committee Chair Sen. Jim] Inhofe [R-OK] said. “This time, they cannot avoid consultation with states and local governments, they will have to do a full economic analysis, including an unfunded mandates analysis, they will have to review the impacts on small businesses and small local government.”
The bill received the usual push back from Democrats including perpetual moonbat Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) who called the bill a back-door repeal of the Clean Water Act, the 40 year old legislation that did help clean up the nation’s waterways when it was needed. The new clean water rule was meant to update the act itself, and instead is a government control overreach of epic proportions.
Other Democrats voted against the bill, but were supportive of some provisions such as forcing the EPA to publish a map on the reach of the Clean Water Act and protecting local communities. All amendments to the bill were voted down along party lines.
Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are among the cosponsors of the bill. The EPA has yet to comment.