The House next week is expected to pass legislation that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from rewriting Clean Water Act rules without permission from Congress.
GOP leaders are expected to bring up the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act. The bill, which has five Democratic cosponsors, is a reaction to a rule from the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from expanding federal regulation over a broader range of U.S. waters.
The Environmental Protection Agency, run by Administrator Gina McCarthy, has proposed a rule that would expand the EPA's authority over water. House Republicans are hoping to stop that rule. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Opponents of the EPA's rule say it's an attempt to override not only Congress, but states that have worked in a partnership with the federal government when it comes to maintaining clean water.
The rule would change the definition of "waters of the United States" in a way that Republicans say would give the EPA the power to regulate bodies of water that Congress never intended.
"The Obama administration's federal power grab – attempting to literally define puddles as navigable waterways so they can regulate them – will have broad, negative impacts on a wide range of U.S. industries, most notably agriculture," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a memo to Republicans this week. He said that sort of change would mean more federal regulations on farmers in particular.
"Placing additional burdens on our hard-working farmers will result in higher food prices for American families and I commend the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee for its commitment to addressing this important issue," he said.
That committee approved the bill back in July, when the bill's sponsor, Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.), said the rule is being pushed out because Obama is trying to bypass the legislative process.
Under the bill, the EPA and the Army Corps would be prohibited from enforcing their rule changing the definition of U.S. waters, and other agencies would be limited as well. It also calls on federal agencies to consult with state and local officials to reach a consensus proposal on how to amend Clean Water Act regulations, and would ensure those recommendations are consistent with recent court decisions related to that law.