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Shuster to President Obama: Keep the EPA Out of Our Backyard Ponds and Puddles

WASHINGTON – Today Congressman Bill Shuster was joined by Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) in voicing his strong concern in a letter to President Obama regarding new efforts to circumvent Congress and expand the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Administration’s latest move would drastically broaden the government’s control over bodies of water across the country.

The Clean Water Act, originally passed in 1972, gives the government and the EPA the power to regulate “navigable waterways,” an important distinction that excludes smaller bodies of water such as wetlands and backyard ponds. President Obama is now attempting to dramatically expand the scope determining which waters the EPA has the authority to regulate, including those found on private property.

In their letter, Shuster and Gibbs highlighted that these new regulations would have serious real-world consequences, as they would “significantly restrict the ability of landowners to make decisions about their property and the rights of state and local governments to plan for their own development.”

The two representatives also turned a spotlight on President Obama’s abuse of power, declaring, “These actions are yet another example of a disturbing pattern of an imperial presidency that seeks to use brute force and executive action while ignoring Congress.”

Congressmen Shuster and Gibbs also called for more balanced regulations, saying “Regulation of the nation’s waters must be done in a manner that responsibly protects the environment without an unnecessary and costly expansion of the federal government in order to prevent unreasonable and burdensome regulations and to protect small businesses, farmers, and families.”

The full text of the Shuster/Gibbs letter can be found below:

Dear President Obama:

We are deeply concerned with your recent push to dramatically expand federal jurisdiction over waters and wet areas in the United States. These actions are yet another example of a disturbing pattern of an imperial presidency that seeks to use brute force and executive action while ignoring Congress.

Unilaterally broadening the scope of the Clean Water Act and the federal government’s reach into our everyday lives would adversely affect the nation’s economy, threaten jobs, invite costly litigation, and significantly restrict the ability of landowners to make decisions about their property and the rights of state and local governments to plan for their own development. This massive federal jurisdiction grab was the subject of failed legislation in the 110th and 111th Congresses that strong bipartisan opposition prevented from moving forward.

On September 17, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency and Corps of Engineers sent to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and Budget, for regulatory review, a draft rule entitled Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act. This rule ostensibly aims to “clarify” which waterbodies are subject to Federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

We are extremely concerned that there are serious deficiencies with this rulemaking. The draft rule misconstrues and manipulates the legal standards announced in the two Supreme Court holdings relevant to this rule, and there are substantial flaws in the economic and scientific foundations upon which the rule is based. Further, the sequence and timing of the actions that the Agencies have been taking to develop this rule undermine the credibility of the rule and the process to develop it.

Regulation of the nation’s waters must be done in a manner that responsibly protects the environment without an unnecessary and costly expansion of the federal government in order to prevent unreasonable and burdensome regulations and to protect small businesses, farmers, and families.

Sincerely,

Bill Shuster

Chairman

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

 

Bob Gibbs

Chairman

Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment

 

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