U.S. Chamber Leads 375 Trade Associations and Chambers Asking EPA to Withdraw Its "Waters of the U.S." Proposal

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - 10:15am

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with 375 trade associations and chambers from 40 states and representing a wide range of industries, today voiced strong concerns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 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expand the scope of federal authority over water and land uses across the U.S. and called for the proposal to be withdrawn.

“If the proposed rule becomes final, EPA’s revision of the definition of ‘waters of the U.S.’ would expand its regulatory jurisdiction to almost all waters of the U.S., including ditches, ponds, and streams,” said William Kovacs, the U.S. Chamber’s senior vice president for the Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs. “This rule will have a far-reaching impact and make it even more difficult to create opportunities and jobs in this country. EPA’s actions are just wrong and the U.S. Chamber has brought together organizations from across the country to call for this proposal to be immediately withdrawn.”

As the 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. 

The full comments are available here

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.