Statement for the Record on Senate EPW Committee Markup S. 1140, “The Federal Water Quality Protection Act”

By at 11 June, 2015, 2:11 pm

Statement for the record by:

Karen Kerrigan, President and CEO

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Full Committee Business Meeting to Consider S. 1140, “The Federal Water Quality Protection Act”

June 10, 2015

The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) and its entrepreneur and small business members are deeply concerned about the unprecedented scope and intrusiveness of the Obama Administration’s recently finalized regulation of water bodies under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  SBE Council’s Center for Regulatory Solutions has assessed this far-reaching rule and has concluded that the end result will be more bureaucratic delays in issuing necessary federal permits and higher compliance costs for small businesses involved in energy production and exploration, bridge and road construction, agriculture and mining, general business plant expansion and much more.  Misleadingly dubbed the “Clean Water Rule” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers, the rule is one of most egregious examples of the Obama Administration’s regulatory overreach—it will result in greater federal control of water bodies that have long been successfully regulated by state and local governments.

Under the CWA, the federal government is responsible for regulating “navigable waters,” which Congress defined as “waters of the United States and the territorial seas.”  With their new regulation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have greatly broadened the number of so-called federal “jurisdictional waters,” thereby upending the longstanding collaborative relationship between the federal government and the states established by the CWA.

This rule is so flawed that the only solution is for Congress to eliminate it and provide a common-sense, reasonable, and science-based clarification to the CWA that restores the traditional, workable balance between federal agencies and states.  The SBE Council commends Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and 37 bipartisan cosponsors for introducing S. 1140, “The Federal Water Quality Protection Act,” a bill that accomplishes this objective. We also thank Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) for convening today’s important markup.

SBE Council strongly supports S. 1140, which includes the following key provisions:

  • Establishes that the Obama “Clean Water Rule” “shall have no force or effect”;
  • Requires the EPA Administrator and the Secretary of the Army to re-issue a new rule that regulates “traditional navigable waters” according to specific, clearly defined principles;
  • Defines which water bodies are not jurisdictional, including, among others, ditches along roads, agricultural fields and “other infrastructure,” irrigation ponds, isolated ponds, and “any other isolated facility or system that holds water.”

S. 1140 also includes language that federal agencies must consult with governors as well as state and local water agencies before publishing a proposed rule.

In a section of critical importance to SBE Council and its members, the bill requires EPA and the Corps to conduct an economic analysis of the new rule on small businesses, regardless of whether the impacts are direct or indirect.  Incredibly, to the dismay of SBE Council’s members, the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, and simple commonsense, EPA found that the “Clean Water Rule” would not have a “significant effect on a substantial number of small entities,” including some local governments.

SBE Council and our Center for Regulatory Solutions stand ready to work with the committee, its members, and U.S. Senate on this important bipartisan legislation.  More importantly, we look forward to working with you and committee members on common-sense solutions to the regulatory challenges small businesses face every day. This will ensure America’s regulatory system can both protect human health and the environment and at the same time enable small businesses to compete, innovate and invest in the future with confidence.

News and Media Releases