January 18, 2016

Congress Pushes Back On Costly EPA, Interior Department Regulations

As Connecting the Dots reported at the time, last fall, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to disapprove of the the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. 

This rule, which would expand the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, including expanding it to ephemeral waters often found on agricultural and industrial sites, would increase costs for industries ranging from agriculture to manufacturing. Additionally, as the National Association of Manufacturers explains, “If implemented, the WOTUS rule would exert power over a staggering range of manmade and isolated areas, even those that are usually dry or too small to appear on a map” and, for manufacturers, that means the rule would subject “an almost limitless number of new areas to permitting uncertainty and places some current permits in jeopardy.” 

Last Wednesday, the House took up the Senate bill and passed it on a bipartisan 253 to 166 vote. (Click here to see how your member of Congress voted.) 

Twelve Democrats supported the measure. The White House opposes the resolution and President Barack Obama is likely to veto it. The House also voted last week to pass H.R. 1644, the Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining (STREAM) Act, which would delay the Department of the Interior’s proposed “Stream Protection Rule” (SPR) until a comprehensive study is conducted on the effectiveness of current regulations. 

According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) has not shown a deficiency in the existing laws and regulations that would warrant a new regulation, nor has it taken adequate input from states and other regulated stakeholders. The Interior Department’s new rule could result in job losses totaling 300,000, including more than 77,500 in the coal industry. 

The House passed the STREAM Act on a 235 to 188 vote. Click here to see how your member of Congress voted.