The House of Representatives approved a Senate resolution on Wednesday which blocks the implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Water Rule. The final vote tally was 253-166.
The Rule, created in May 2015, gives EPA the authority to regulate virtually all “waters of the United States”, including “streams and wetlands”.
The resolution was first introduced by Sen. Joni Earnst (R-Iowa), and passed the Senate in November 2015. After its passage, the White House quickly threatened a veto.
“The federal government shouldn’t be regulating every drop of water,” said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.). “Just about every wet area in the country is open to federal regulation under this rule. The rights of landowners and local governments will be trampled.”
While the Rule has not been implemented yet due to a legal challenge in federal court, the EPA says that it is necessary in order to protect some sources of drinking water.
This argument has manifested itself in Michigan, where the city of Flint has a lead-poisoning crisis after switching its main source of drinking water to the Flint River. 30,000 households in the town have been affected, and Gov. Rick Snyder has been accused of gross negligence.
On Saturday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called on Gov. Snyder to resign, saying he “long ago knew about the lead in Flint’s water.”
In an op-ed published in the Omaha World-Herald on Wednesday, Speaker Paul Ryan wrote: “The EPA claims it is only clarifying the law, but Congress never intended the federal government to oversee tiny streams and ponds on private property.”
Landowners and some in the construction industry worry that the Clean Water Rule will eventually allow the EPA to require a federal permit in order to start a land project adjacent to any body of water, large or small.
[The Hill] [Politico]