Collins says majority of House wants to block EPA ‘overreach’ at farms

Posted 1 May 2014 at 12:00 am

Press release, Congressman Chris Collins

More than 200 members of the House of Representatives, from both parties, are joining Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) in telling the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to back off its plan to expand federal control under the Clean Water Act.

Both agencies are seeking a rule change to give the federal government more authority by expanding the already overly broad definition of ‘navigable waters’ under the CWA.

Congressman Collins (R-Clarence) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) authored a letter to the EPA and USACE outlining strong concerns about the negative impact the proposed rule will have on farms all across the country. The letter attracted a total of 231 signatures from both Republicans and Democrats, representing more than half of the House.

The EPA and USACE proposed rule would redefine the scope of federal power under the CWA, giving the CWA jurisdiction over almost all physical areas with a connection to downstream navigable waters.

This would put features such as ditches, natural or man-made ponds, flood plains, and prairie potholes, among others, under federal control. The Members say the new rule would directly contradict prior U.S. Supreme Court decisions and is based on incomplete scientific and economic analyses.

“EPA’s overreach is already causing real harm for farmers and stalling business development across our country,” said Congressman Collins.  “When I visit with farmers in my district, the heavy burdens under the Clean Water Act come up each and every time. When the bureaucrats at the EPA decide to call a divot in the ground that fills with rain a ‘navigable waterway’ under the CWA, we know our federal government has run amuck. The fact that the EPA and USACE are now looking to formally broaden the definition of ‘navigable waters’ is an insult to hard working farmers all across this country.”

“The EPA’s proposed rule is going to cause more harm than good,” said Congressman Schrader. “By adding yet another layer of unnecessary regulatory burden on our agriculture and business communities, this proposal will further hinder our country’s economic recovery and stifle job creation. The Clean Water Act is working, but this rule will create needless confusion based on bad science. I hope the administration acknowledges our concerns and heeds the advice of myself and my colleagues when we say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

“It is refreshing to see that members of Congress agree with the American Farm Bureau that it is time to ditch this rule,” said Don Parrish, senior director of regulatory relations for American Farm Bureau Federation. “This regulatory proposal is an end run around Congress and the Supreme Court, and we appreciate the efforts of Mr. Collins and Mr. Schrader to highlight the many concerns our members are expressing about the rule.”

You can read the letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Department of the Army Secretary John M. McHugh and see a list of co-signers by clicking here.

More than 100 state and national organizations are lending their support to block this proposed rule.