Texas Leaders Attack EPA on Proposed Expansion

Texas Leaders Attack EPA on Proposed Expansion

In a sweeping 370 plus page report, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo Ellen Carcy submitted a proposed rule change for how water is regulated in the United States–effectively expanding authority to bodies traditionally maintained by local authorities. Seen as yet another power-grab by the Obama Administration, several Texas public officials have weighed in on the matter.

The proposed rule change would greatly expand federal oversight, impacting more wetlands and what the EPA refers to as “adjacent and other waters.” 

A report on Fox News states, “The EPA proposal would apply pollution regulations to the country’s so-called ‘intermittent and ephemeral streams and wetlands’ — which are created during wet seasons, or simply after it rains, but are temporary.”

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2006 currently restricts the federal government’s authority over these types of waters stating, according to Fox News, “Such waters must be ‘relatively’ permanent or continuously flowing and sizeable, like ‘oceans, rivers, streams and lakes’.” However, the ruling precedes the Obama Administration.

In a copy of the draft rule change now being considered, the EPA stated, “to be clear, our proposal does not add to or expand the scope of the waters historically protected under the Clean Water Act.”

Two Texas Congressmen disagree. In a press release obtained by Breitbart Texas, Congressman Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), who serves on the House Committee on Agriculture, said, “The EPA’s role is to ensure the federal government and states are working together efficiently to reduce pollution in our nation’s waterways. This rule goes far beyond that. EPA is giving itself permission to regulate anything from runoff ditches to stock ponds.”

In response to a Breitbart Texas inquiry, Congressman Neugebauer expounded on his previous comments explaining, “This Administration has decided that Washington knows best. That’s simply not true. This expansion of EPA’s power won’t improve our nation’s water quality, but it will make it very hard for a farmer to grow his crops if he has to get approval before he can plant near a drainage ditch. This is costly and unnecessary.”

Congressman Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee said in a press release, “As expected, the EPA’s proposed water rule expands the agency’s control over natural and man-made streams, lakes, ponds and wetlands. If approved, this rule could allow the EPA to regulate virtually every body of water in the United States.”

Chairman Smith explained further in comment made directly to Breitbart Texas, “With this rule, the EPA is bullying its way into Americans’ own back yards.  The agency rushed through the process and disregarded its obligation to first allow independent scientists to review the proposal. The Obama administration continues to ignore science in order to pursue its overreaching regulatory agenda.”

Texas General Land Office Commissioner Jerry Patterson told Breitbart Texas this is “another federal imposition on the private property rights guaranteed in the constitution. When the EPA reduces value of one’s land by senseless regulation, it is a taking of property without compensation.”

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples told Breitbart Texas, “When we are told by the EPA that ‘the proposed rule preserves existing Clean Water Act exemptions and exclusions for agricultural activities,’ all I hear is ‘if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it’.”

“The hard reality is President Obama and his Administration,” Staples continued “will stop at nothing to extend the powers of an overly intrusive, overreaching federal government, and Texas must fight to stop these costly and burdensome rules.”

“It’s long overdue that states join together to stop Washington’s unconstitutional behavior,” Commissioner Staples concluded. “We don’t need President Obama and his administration expanding job-killing regulatory authority as just another way for them to get their claws into private property.”

The proposed rule now must go through a 90-day comment period where the public and public officials can express their thoughts on the matter. The period will feature public hearings conducted across the country.

In a press release from the EPA, the organization claims the Clean Water Act gives the agency authority over:

  • “Most seasonal and rain-dependent streams are protected.
  • “Wetlands near rivers and streams are protected.
  • “Other types of waters may have more uncertain connections with downstream water and protection will be evaluated through a case specific analysis of whether the connection is or is not significant. However, to provide more certainty, the proposal requests comment on options protecting similarly situated waters in certain geographic areas or adding to the categories of waters protected without case specific analysis.”

An overview from EPA Administrator MCCarthy is available online as well as an explanation from Deputy Chief of Staff Arvin Ganesan.

Breitbart Texas reached out to Texas Democrat Congressman Filemon Vela (D-TX) who also serves on the House Committee on Agriculture for a response. No comments have been received at this time.

Follow Bob Price on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX

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