Idaho Congressman demands to know why EPA releases rule prior to receiving conclusion of scientific results – says agency just fired the first shot over the bow
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today blasted the Environmental Protection Agency over the rule it proposed earlier this week to expand the Obama Administration’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was scheduled to testify before the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, of which Simpson is a member, on the FY15 budget request, but the controversial proposed rule dominated discussion. During the hearing, Full Committee Chairman Hal Rogers vowed that the EPA’s attempts to drastically expand its authority would fall flat in Congress and that much of the fight would take place in the Appropriations Committee.
Simpson didn’t hesitate in expressing his complete opposition to the proposed rule. “You say you want to create certainty,” he said during his comments, “but you just fired the first shot over the bow in the west, because this is war. Water is obviously vitally important in Idaho.” He added, “Just because the EPA or the Army Corps doesn’t regulate it under the current rule doesn’t mean that it isn’t regulated. The states regulate it.”
Simpson also complained that the EPA chose to issue the proposed rule before the Science Advisory Board has completed its review of the science on the connection between water bodies, which is one of the major issues at stake in the new proposal. “Why would you issue this proposed rule prior to getting the results of the science advisory board? It tells me two things . . . either one, you don’t care what they are going to say, or two, you already know what they are going to say.” He continued, “You’re going out for 90 days of public review, but the public won’t have this information in time to give a legitimate comment.”
Simpson has joined a number of other westerners in signing a letter to the EPA expressing deep concerns about the proposed rule and asking EPA to withdraw it. Simpson is also a cosponsor of H.R. 3377, the Defense of Environment and Property Act of 2013, which would clearly define “navigable waters” to prevent either the EPA or the Corps of Engineers from impinging on state’s power over land and water use.