The House of Representatives has passed H.R.5078 Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Act of 2014 with a bipartisan vote of 262-152. The legislation is an attempt to halt the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed "Waters of the United States" regulation.
"The proposed WOTUS regulation by EPA and the Corps is a thinly veiled land grab attempt by the federal government," according to Ed Luttrell, President of the National Grange. "Recently released maps by the EPA show that virtually every farmer, rancher and landowner would be adversely impacted by this regulation."
The proposed rule has come under fire because of its breadth of jurisdiction. Among other things, all perennial, intermittent and ephemeral streams would be part of the rule because they are considered tributaries that are "physically and chemically connected" downstream to traditional navigable waters.
"This Legislation is necessary because, in my view, the EPA does not seem to understand the real world effects these regulations will have on farmers across the country," according to House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Colin Peterson, D-Minn. The bill's original sponsor, Representative Steve Southerland, R-FL, citing the proposed regulation as the very definition of regulatory creep, said "This (regulation) really facilitates a capture of private property using the Clean Water Act and this onerous authority as a tool for imminent domain."
The Senate is not expected to consider a WOTUS bill until after the November elections. Over 30 senators have sponsored legislation similar to the House-passed version. The White House has threatened a veto. Grange members are encouraged to contact their senators during the upcoming October election cycle recess and ask them to vote for legislation to curtail the EPA and Corps regulatory overreach on water in the lame duck (November-December) session of Congress.