U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, today questioned the intent of a proposed rule to clarify the reach of the Clean Water Act over streams and wetlands, and encouraged the agriculture and business communities to weigh in on the environmental regulatory proposal.
The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.), with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, on Tuesday released a proposed rule intended to clarify the definitions of waters subject to government oversight under the Clean Water Act. The announcement of the new rule, titled “Waters of the United States Proposed Rule,” opens a 90-day public comment period.
“While I am suspect of the impact and objectives of this rule-making, I give the agency some credit for finally choosing to use the rule-making process and allow for public input as Congress intended. I encourage citizens to carefully review this proposal and weigh in with E.P.A. to ensure that regulations like this one are based on sound science, consider economic impacts, and demonstrate common sense,” Cochran said.
The veteran Mississippi lawmaker has been critical of actions taken by the E.P.A. in recent years to expand the extent to which the Clean Water Act can be used to tighten federal control over waterways in a manner that could unfairly interfere with agriculture, home-building and other land-intensive industries.
“Over the past five years the E.P.A. has demonstrated a willingness to expand its regulatory reach, ignore common sense and, at times, exceed any rational reading of the law. Its actions have increased the regulatory burdens and costs on farmers, ranchers, businesses and other job creators,” Cochran said. “Stakeholders in Mississippi and elsewhere should take a very close look at this latest E.P.A. regulatory effort.”
Cochran has worked against the use of an E.P.A.-Army Corps of Engineers guidance document, issued outside of the regular federal rulemaking process, to expand government regulation waterways. In June 2013, the Senator cosponsored the Preserve the Waters of the U.S. Act (S.1006), which would prevent the E.P.A. and Army Corps of Engineers from using a guidance document finalized in February 2012 to change legal responsibilities under the Clean Water Act. It also stops the two agencies from issuing similar guidance in the future.
·Waters of the United States Proposed Rule: http://1.usa.gov/1eL673C
·Statement on Preserve the Waters of the U.S. Act, June 2013: http://1.usa.gov/12sPaHl