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Simpson Cosponsors Bill to Curb EPA Water Regulation

H.R. 3377 would clarify Clean Water Act to protect private property and states’ rights

H.R. 3377 would clarify Clean Water Act to protect private property and states’ rights
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today cosponsored legislation to limit the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from expanding their regulatory authority over state waters.  H.R. 3377, the Defense of Environment and Property Act of 2013, would curb the EPA’s efforts to expand its authority under the Clean Water Act by clearly defining “navigable waters.”   Simpson chairs the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the budget for the Corps of Engineers, and serves on the subcommittee that oversees the EPA budget.

“This is an issue that hits at the very core of our way of life in Idaho,” said Simpson.  “Water is life, and to let the EPA begin to regulate all waters of the United States would have a devastating impact on rural towns, farmers, and local governments.  I’ve been deeply concerned that the EPA has moved so aggressively to claim jurisdiction over state waters, which is why I’ve cosponsored this bill.  H.R. 3377 provides common sense and needed clarification on this issue so that farmers and ranchers can move forward without fear of the EPA usurping their water rights.”

The term “navigable waters” has long been the term which limits federal intrusion with regards to the Clean Water Act’s authority.  However, recent disputes over the definition of “navigable waters” have resulted in efforts by the Obama Administration to amend the current version of the Clean Water Act by replacing the term “navigable waters” with the term “waters of the United States.”  Non-navigable waters are currently regulated by the states.

Striking this term out of the law would result in a massive expansion of the federal government’s authority by increasing the number of waters subject to federal water quality standards.  If all intrastate waters are regulated, the law could be broadly interpreted to include everything within a state, including groundwater.  H.R. 3377 would clearly define “navigable waters” as waters that are navigable-in-fact to prevent either the EPA or the Corps of Engineers from impinging on states’ power over land and water use.

“If the EPA has its way, the reach of federal jurisdiction would be so broad that it could significantly restrict landowners’ ability to make decisions about their property and a state and local government’s right to plan for its own development,” Simpson said.  “Ponds, ditches, and groundwater should not be regulated by the federal government, and I will continue to fight to protect private property and states’ rights in my role on the House Appropriations Committee.”

As Chairman of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, Simpson had included language in his FY2014 appropriations bill to prevent the EPA from removing the term “navigable waters” from the definition of waters subject to EPA regulation under the Clean Water Act.  Similar language applying to the Corps of Engineers was included in the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.