U.S. House scuttles EPA plan to expand definition of waters in Clean Water Act

Construction industry officials said the rule would hamper developers, cost jobs.

May 22, 2015 |
U.S. House scuttles EPA plan to expand definition of waters in Clean Water Act

Builders, farmers, and others had objected to the rule, saying the proposed definition would force landowners to get federal permits before they could work around them. Image: Pixabay/falco

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate a proposed rule that would expand the definition of waters that are subject to the Clean Water Act.

Builders, farmers, and others had objected to the rule, saying the proposed definition, which would include small bodies of water such as ponds, creeks, and ditches on private property, would force landowners to get federal permits before they could work around them.

Construction industry advocates contend that the proposed rule was too great an expansion of the kinds of water regulated by the government, and would stop building projects and cost jobs.

“The poorly crafted and overreaching Waters of the U.S. rule adds a great deal of ambiguity and uncertainty for contractors, and we hope the Obama administration sees today’s action as a bipartisan referendum against this bad rule,” said Geoff Burr, vice president of government affairs for Associated Builders and Contractors.

The House action means the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers will have to start from scratch in their efforts to update the Clean Water Act. 

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