NLC Supports House and Senate Action on “Waters of the U.S.”
Last week, NLC expressed support for House and Senate legislation to halt the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (Corps) proposed rule on "waters of the U.S."
Bills in both chambers would require the agencies to withdraw the current proposed rule, and begin again by conducting a federalism consultation with state and local governments as well as a comprehensive cost analysis examining the impact of the proposed rule and all Clean Water Act (CWA) programs.
The House was scheduled to vote on the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act (H.R. 1732) last week, but the vote has since been postponed until after the week-long recess this week. President Obama has issued a veto threat against the House bill. NLC is urging members to contact their representatives and urge them to support H.R. 1732.
In the Senate, a bipartisan group led by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) introduced the Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S. 1140) that directs the agencies to issue a revised proposal that adheres to a set of principles, including what types of waterbodies a "waters of the U.S." should and should not include, as well as a process by which the agencies should use to develop the proposal.
EPA and the Corps are developing a rule to change the Clean Water Act definition of "waters of the U.S." The proposed rule, which is currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget, will have broad implications for local governments, including impacts to municipal stormwater and floodwater managements systems. The final rule is expected in the near future.
NLC submitted comments to EPA and the Corps on the proposed rule, raising concerns about further confusion over what waters will fall under federal jurisdiction, leading to unnecessary project delays, added costs to local governments and inconsistency across the country. NLC asked the agencies to clarify language and provide specific exemptions for essential local government systems, such as public safety ditches, water conveyances, stormwater systems, green infrastructure, and more. NLC reiterated concerns about the rulemaking process, including the need for a federalism consultation with state and local governments and a meaningful cost-benefit analysis.