The House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment heard testimony on June 11 from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps officials on the potential impact of the agencies’ proposed changes to the Clean Water Act. These proposed revisions to the Act are so overly broad that even artificial ponds used to store rainwater to prevent runoff would be federally regulated. As crafted, the changes would create significant financial burdens for small businesses without necessarily any improved water quality.
NMHC joined the Waters Advocacy Coalition (WAC) in submitting testimony for the record at the hearing. The testimony expressed concerns regarding the fact that EPA has failed to finalize a report that would strengthen the scientific rational behind determining what waters would be covered under the rule. Currently, even EPA’s own Science Advisory Board has raised serious questions about a draft version of the report. A group of 14 Democratic members of the House also sent a letter to EPA and the Corps urging them to complete the science before proceeding with the rulemaking. This is just one of numerous letters from Members of Congress that have been filed with the agencies.
In addition, our testimony cites an insufficient economic analysis that has been put forward by the agencies to support the proposed rule. A recent review of EPA and Corps’ analysis prepared by a University of California-Berkley economist found that the methodology used to determine the potential costs for the rule was so flawed that it was “virtually meaningless” and recommended that the agencies completely withdraw the report. NMHC/NAA also issued a related statement on the review that was sent to key staff and leadership on the Hill the day before the hearing.
EPA and the Corps responded early this week to our concerns filed in coordination with WAC that they were inappropriately rushing to finalize a rule. As a result, the agencies have extended the comment period to October 20. However, the U.S. Conference of Mayors is set to take up a resolution at their 82nd Annual Meeting in Dallas from June 20-23, which asks EPA and the Corps to pause the rulemaking process completely until the agencies have properly addressed all stakeholder concerns.