House Passes Bill Prohibiting EPA Proposed “Waters of the United States” Change

A September 16 National Association of Counties (NACo) update reported that the United States House of Representatives has passed legislation that would prohibit the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from changing the definition of “Waters the US” under the federal Clean Water Act.  From the update:

On September 9, the House of Representatives successfully passed the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 (H.R. 5078) by a vote of 262-152. H.R. 5078, which passed with 227 Republican and 35 Democratic votes, would prevent the Administration’s proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule from moving forward.  Additionally, the measure would require the agencies to consult and collaborate with state and local governments on the “Waters of the U.S.” rule development process.  The agencies would be required to document the interactions, including those areas where consensus was reached – or not reached – and to submit a final report to Congress.

The House-passed measure, which was threatened with a potential veto in a statement released by the White House before the vote, now faces an uncertain future in the Senate.  NACo members should contact their U.S. Senators and urge them to support H.R. 5078, or any bill that delays the rule-making process to allow for the resolution of issues with the proposed rule.

The proposed rule that prompted the introduction of H.R. 5078—Definition of Waters of the U.S. Under the Clean Water Act— was released by the [EPA] and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) on April 21. The rule amends the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” within the Clean Water Act (CWA) and expands the range of waters (and their conveyances) that would fall under federal regulatory authority.

NACo has raised concerns that the proposed definition would subject county maintained road and drainage ditches to the rigorous permitting and water quality requirements of the Clean Water Act.  Several Maryland counties have submitted comments to the EPA and MACo will be submitting comments before the October 20 public comment period closes.

NACo’s Waters of the US Resource Center (includes information on how to submit comments to the EPA)

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Waters of the US