PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESS, PROMOTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

SBE Council Asks EPA to Withdraw its “Waters of the U.S.” Proposal

By at 12 November, 2014, 1:58 pm

Washington, D.C. —The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) joined with 375 trade associations and chambers from 50 states representing a wide range of industries to voice strong concerns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) flawed proposed rule to dramatically expand the scope of federal authority over water and land uses across the U.S. and called for the proposal to be withdrawn. The effort was led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“The proposed ‘waters rule’ is a disturbing power grab by federal bureaucrats. The EPA and Corps have little concern about how the regulation would impact small businesses, land and homeowners, local economic development, property rights, or the fact that state and local governments have effective, locally catered rules in place. Only federal bureaucrats could come up with a rule that regulate ditches. The plug needs to be pulled on the ‘waters rule,’” said Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) president & CEO Karen Kerrigan. SBE Council signed onto the comment letter.

As the groups’ comments state, “The proposed rule is really about the Agencies’ overreaching attempt to replace longstanding state and local control of land uses near water with centralized federal control. In light of the overwhelming evidence that the proposed rule would have a devastating impact on businesses, states, and local governments without any real benefit to water quality, the Agencies should immediately withdraw the waters of the U.S. proposal and begin again. The current proposed rule is simply too procedurally and legally flawed to repair.”

The comments detail several examples of the impacts of the proposed rule, including:

  • Maps prepared by EPA show the rule could expand federal jurisdiction over waters from 3.5 million river and stream miles to well over 8 million river and stream miles;
  • The rule would make most ditches into “tributaries.”  Routine maintenance activities in ditches and on-site ponds and impoundments could trigger permits that can cost $100,000 or more;
  • These permitting requirements would likely trigger additional environmental reviews that would add years to the completion time for ordinary projects;
  • Even if a project can get a permit, firms will often have to agree to mitigate environmental “damage” with costly restoration/mitigation projects;
  • The proposal would likely also result in more stringent storm water management requirements, which would affect retailers, companies with large parking lots, “big box” stores, etc.

Legislation passed the United States House of Representatives (H.R. 5078) on September 9, 2014 preventing the “waters rule” from taking effect. H.R. 5078 passed the House by a vote of 262-152.

SBE Council is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy, research and education organization dedicated to protecting small business and promoting entrepreneurship. For more than twenty years, SBE Council has worked to strengthen the ecosystem for entrepreneurs and small business growth. For more information, please visit www.sbecouncil.org. Twitter: @SBECouncil

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