Monday, September 22, 2014

Republican House Passes Bill to Block EPA Overreach

Thank goodness the Republicans are running interference against the Obama administration's determined efforts to regulate every aspect of our lives -- including every puddle on our property!

On September 9, 2014, the House passed the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 (H.R. 5078), introduced by Representative Steve Southerland (R-FL).

The Republican-controlled House approved the bill to block the Obama administration from implementing a rule that asserts regulatory authority over many of the nation's streams and wetlands.

Yes, it was an action to stop the Obama administration overreach.

The bill would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) from finalizing or implementing a proposed rule to define "Waters of the U.S." under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The Republican bill is supported by as huge coalition of Agricultural groups.

Earlier this year the EPA and Corps published a new proposed rule to redefine “Waters of the U.S.” under the CWA.

The CWA regulates discharges of pollutants into the Waters of the United States.

The Federal Government, through the EPA, wanted to control all "waters" in every state of the Union no matter how small a creek or stream.

The EPA proposed rule change wanted to redefine “Waters of the U.S.,” in a manner that would significantly expand the waters subject to the requirements of the CWA.

Additionally, in conjunction with the proposed rule, the EPA and Corps issued an "Interpretive Rule" (IR) regarding CWA section 404 exemptions for agricultural discharges of dredge and fill materials (dirt or soil) into "Waters of the U.S." that was made effective immediately.

What that meant was that the EPA through their use of an "Interpretive Rule" could place new constraints on farms and ranches -- especially if the proposed rule is finalized.

Agriculture groups and farm-state politicians called the proposed EPA rule a power grab that would allow the Federal government to dictate what farmers can do and not do on their own land.

They said the rule is an example of governmental interference by bureaucrats who don't know as much as farmers and ranchers do about how to be good stewards of their land.

The EPA proposal would have "devastating consequences on every major aspect of the economy," from farming to manufacturing and road-building, Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., said.

Southerland co-sponsored the bill, which blocks the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from developing or finalizing the proposed rule.

The House approved the bill, 262-152.

Believe it or not, 35 Democrats found the spine to join 227 Republicans to support the bill.

Rep. Chris Smith, a supposed Republican from New Jersey was the sole Republican to oppose it.

That shouldn't surprise anyone since Smith had proven himself a Liberal and RINO (Republican In Name Only) when he co-sponsored an amendment to renew the Federal Assault Weapons Ban back in 2003.  

He was endorsed by the ultra-liberal anti-gun group Brady Campaign in 2006 and 2008.  In 2008, the Brady Campaign endorsed five Republicans for Congress, the others were Chris Shays, Michael Castle, Mark Kirk, and Peter T. King.

As for the Clean Water Act, its expansion of the waters regulated would have affected farms and ranches, as well as America's manufacturing capabilities.

The proposed rule is currently in the public comment period that ends October 20, 2014.

The bill the House passed prohibits the EPA and Corps from finalizing or implementing the proposed rule or using the proposed rule, any successor document, or any substantially similar proposed rule or guidance as the basis for any rule making or decision regarding the scope or enforcement of the CWA.

It also requires the withdrawal of the IR regarding CWA section 404 exemptions for agricultural discharges of dredge and fill materials.

Additionally, the bill requires the EPA and Corps to consult with relevant state and local officials to develop recommendations for a regulatory proposal that would identify the scope of waters covered under the Clean Water Act and the scope of waters not covered.

The House bill must now be debated and approved by the Senate controlled by Democrats who will not go along with the Republicans -- no matter how good it is for the country.

And yes, even with the remote possibility that the Senate goes along with the bill, the Obama White House has threatened to veto the bill, saying the federal rule is needed to ensure clean water for future generations and to reduce regulatory uncertainty.

In other words, this is just another example of the Obama administration's belief that the Federal Government should control every aspect of our lives.

The effort to redefine what constitutes "waters of the United States" was spurred by two Supreme Court decisions that blurred understanding of what waters are covered under the Clean Water Act.

Two Supreme Court decisions, in 2001 and 2006, limited regulators' reach but left unclear the scope of authority over small waterways that might flow intermittently.

Landowners, manufacturing and agriculture, say the government has gone too far in regulating isolated ponds or marshes with no direct connection to navigable waterways.

Even though Democrats say that the new rules would not impact farms. we know they are liars.

In June of this year, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman told the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, "The EPA’s proposal to regulate everyday farming practices isn’t just impractical; it’s illegal!"

"The EPA ‘Waters of the U.S.’ proposal broadly expands federal jurisdiction," Mr. Stallman said. "It threatens local land-use and zoning authority, and is an end-run around Congress and the Supreme Court."

While the EPA claims that farmers would face less regulation under its latest proposal, in fact the rule would micro-manage farming via newly-mandated procedures for fencing, spraying, weeding and more. Permitting, meanwhile, could delay time-sensitive tasks for months, potentially ruining crops in the process.

"EPA is deliberately misleading the regulated community about the impacts on land use. If more people knew how regulators could use the proposed rule to require permits for common activities on dry land, or penalize landowners for not getting them, they would be outraged," Stallman said.

Republicans are in agreement with American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, "Beyond sounding ridiculous, this rule will impact farmers, energy producers and any private citizens that use their land for economic or recreational purposes."

As with others in favor of the bill to stop the EPA overreach, Rep. McCarthy said the rule would extend the EPA's power to include streams, ponds, ditches and even storm water runoff, at the expense of small businesses and farmers.

For me, besides my concerns with over-regulation of Americans in general, this is just one more example of why America needs to keep the Republicans in charge of the House and put them control of the Senate.

This is just another example of how Liberal Big Government attempts to put their nose into places where it does not belong, and again demonstrates why we have a need for elected representative who will stop Liberals from overreach and over-regulation.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

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