WV Congressional Delegation Disagrees with EPA Clean Water Rule

The State Journal
27 May 2015
By Mandi Cardosi, Government Reporter

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rolled out a plan to protect the country's waterways.

According to EPA, the rule is meant to clarify the definitions of waters protected under the existing Clean Water Act because two Supreme Court rulings from 2001 and 2006 had left the reach of the law uncertain.

However, Congressional delegation from West Virginia disagree with the rule.

U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., said the rule is another attempt by the government to impose more regulations.

“This rule expands the federal government's reach over private lands and the states through a dubious interpretation of the Clean Water Act,” Jenkins said in a news release. “This administration's continued disregard for the impact of its regulations on working families, farmers and small businesses must be stopped. It's time for the EPA to listen to West Virginians, not bureaucrats.”

Earlier this month, Jenkins said he voted to block the implementation of the Waters of the United States rule. H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on May 11 by a vote of 261-155.

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also expressed her disdain for the rule.

“The final rule announced today is deeply troubling,” she said in a news release about the topic. “Rather than incorporating input from Congress and concerned Americans, this rule doubles down on overreach and threatens to impede small businesses, agriculture, and coal and natural gas production.

“There is no question that we want to protect our drinking water sources and our precious natural resources, but a rule that will subject puddles and ditches to regulation would lead to a massive expansion of costly permitting requirements.

Capito, in April, joined a group of Senators to introduce The Water Quality Protection Act, an alternative approach to the Waters of the United States rule.

“This legislation would protect traditional navigable water from pollution while also protecting farmers, energy producers, small businesses and manufacturers,” she said. “I will continue working with my colleagues to move this legislation forward and rein in the misguided rule.”

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also believes the EPA is overreaching.

“It is completely unreasonable that our country's ditches, puddles and other un-navigable waters be subjected to the same regulations as our greatest lakes and rivers, and implementing this rule will certainly have a significant impact on West Virginia's economy, hindering businesses, manufacturing and energy production,” Manchin said in a news release. “The bottom line is that no federal agency should go around Congress to control what has not been legislated, especially when its actions will harm economic growth.”

In April, Manchin helped introduce the Water Quality Protection Act to ensure that states and local communities are consulted in meaningful ways on regulations before they are formally proposed, especially if the rule will have a significant impact on future investments, capital costs, operations and mandates.

U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley, R-WVa., called the rule “blatant overreach.”

He said the EPA is only interested in more control.

“From farmland to coal mines, the EPA wants more control. Giving the federal government the authority to regulate ‘bodies of water' that are nothing more than drainage ditches will only lead to more bureaucratic bullying, excessive burdens, and fewer jobs,” McKinley said in a release. “I've visited West Virginia farms and seen what the EPA wants to regulate. These ditches and puddles only have water when it rains.

“This is nothing more than an excuse for the EPA to expand its control over the lives of everyday West Virginians. It defies common sense to punish farmers and homeowners for something Mother Nature controls.”