On June 9, Deputy Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Robert Perciasepe testified in front of the House Science Committee on the science behind the agency’s proposed rule to expand the scope of waters subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act (WOTUS). The rule would significantly increase the permitting requirements, and associated costs, for property owners and developers without necessarily resulting in improved water quality. In fact, the rule is so overly broad that it would apply to virtually all bodies of water, including man made ponds and ditches.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy herself recently admitted that the regulated community had “legitimate concerns” about the rule. Yet, even in the face of tough questioning at this week’s hearing, Perciasepe maintained that the claims of “regulatory overreach” were fueled by misinformation. He said that the rule clarified the agency’s jurisdiction rather than expanded it. Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, asserted, however, that the EPA did not provide real clarity on what is and isn’t water.
It is important to note that the House Appropriation’s Subcommittee on Interior and Environment approved language on June 10 in the FY 2015 spending bill to stay agency efforts to move forward with the proposed rule. The language mirrors a provision in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill (H.R. 4923) currently under debate on the floor of the House that would prevent the government from making any changes or enforcing changes to current law pertaining to the definition of waters under federal jurisdiction.