House Passes Bill to Rein In EPA Clean Water Act Permitting

House Passes Bill to Rein In EPA Clean Water Act Permitting

On July 13, the House passed a bipartisan bill to halt the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) attack on state authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act (H.R. 2018) passed 239-184 following an intense AED-led lobbying campaign.

The bill has major implications for equipment distributors around the country. In recent years, the Obama EPA has used the CWA permitting process to block coal mines in Appalachia. However, quarries, farmers, and commercial, residential and infrastructure construction projects also receive CWA scrutiny and are potentially affected by EPA's abuse of its authority.

"AED commends Chairman Mica and Ranking Member Rahall for their leadership on this important legislation," said AED President and CEO Toby Mack. "For the construction equipment industry, which lost 37 percent of its workforce during the recession, the EPA has only made matters worse by burdening job creators and raising regulatory obstacles to economic growth. H.R. 2018 will put people back to work by reigning in an out of control EPA that is stifling projects across the country."

AED helped lead an ad hoc coalition of 121 organizations urging swift action on the measure. In a July 12 letter, the coalition urged all members of Congress to pass the legislation to "help put people back to work and create new jobs . . . by   ."

The legislation, which now awaits action in the Senate, would:

  • Amend the CWA to restore the long-standing balance between federal and state partners in regulating the nation's waters
  • Preserve the system of cooperative federalism established under the CWA, which gives states primary responsibility for water pollution control
  • Prevent EPA from second-guessing or delaying a state's CWA permitting and water quality certification decisions if EPA has already approved a state's program.

Bipartisan cooperation, particularly on environmental issues, is rare in Washington's charged partisan environment. The fact that the senior Democrat on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee played a lead role in winning passage shows just how excessive the EPA's powers have become.

Despite the success in the House, the bill's future is far from certain. President Obama has threatened to veto the legislation should it pass the Senate, a remote possibility itself.

Thanks to all who used AED's grassroots action site, to urge your representative's support for the bill. AED will continue to work with our partners and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to secure Senate passage and turn the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act into law.