PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESS, PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Water Rule Adds to Flood of Regulation: EPA’s Latest Overreach

By at 24 April, 2014, 5:24 pm

By Karen Kerrigan

The government is revising the definition of “waters of the United States,” which means more bodies of water would be subject to federal control and regulation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is teaming up with Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to redefine and “clarify” its regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The proposed rule was released on March 25, 2014.

Ditches and other temporary bodies of water, small streams, ponds and wetlands could fall under federal control with the new definition. And there’s the catch all “other waters” that would be subject to regulation under the CWA whenever the government sees fit.

EPA's proposed federal "water rule" was just added to the House Small Business Committee's "Small Biz Reg Watch," which alerts entrepreneurs to proposed rules that could have a significant impact on their business. The initiative engages business owners, and urges them to comment and provide feedback on government regulations and policies.

EPA’s proposed federal “water rule” was just added to the House Small Business Committee’s “Small Biz Reg Watch,” which alerts entrepreneurs to proposed rules that could have a significant impact on their business. The initiative engages business owners, and urges them to comment and provide feedback on government regulations and policies.

“The EPA and Corps are proposing to expand the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act to include nearly every damp patch of land in the United States,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Graves. “This regulatory overreach means small businesses and landowners may need costly permits and face lengthy delays for ordinary activities on private property. Projects may need to be redesigned or relocated to satisfy federal regulators. Worse, permit applications may be denied. This extraordinary intrusion into the lives of many farmers, ranchers and small business owners has the likely potential to be economically devastating and must be stopped.”

Chairman Graves added the proposed rule to the Committee’s Small Biz Reg Watch. The initiative regularly “highlights new agency proposed rules that may have a significant effect on small businesses,” according to the Committee, which engages with entrepreneurs and small business owners via email and social media.  The EPA’s water rule is one of three regulatory proposals to watch as listed by the Committee.

Members of Congress are concerned about the new rule:

Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said the EPA “failed to incorporate adequate peer-reviewed science in accordance with the agency’s own statutory obligations.”

Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) said, “the new rule has the potential to further the Administration’s erosion of state water law, jeopardize municipalities, communities and economies that rely on long-held individual water rights for their livelihood, and derail a century of local conservation efforts to responsibly protect and manage our precious water supply.”

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said the proposed rule shows that EPA regulators “know very little about agriculture.

Large swaths of industry and small businesses will be impacted by the rule, as will municipalities, states and individual property owners and homeowners.

You can read the proposed rule in the Federal Register here. If you would like to submit comments, you may review options for doing so here.  Comments are due by July 21, 2014.  Please share your comments with SBE Council by emailing them to comments@sbecouncil.org.  SBE Council will be submitting comments in the near future based on conversation and feedback from our members and small business owners throughout the country.

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

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