Next Wednesday, February 4th, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will hold a Joint Hearing at 10am entitled,"State & Local Impacts of Administration’s Proposed Expansion of Waters Regulation". The Committees will hear from two panels of experts including: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, as well as officials from several different states. In conjunction with the hearing, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) has announced his plans to introduce a bill to put a stop to the waters of the U.S. rulemaking and to clarify the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction.
The hearing will focus on the potential impacts of the rule on states and localities as well as the justifications for the scope of the regulation from the EPA and Army Corps. This hearing follows closely on the January 15th release of the EPA's study on the "Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters" which will be used as justification for the expansion of the definition of navigable waters under the Clean Water Act. The report makes the strong case for extensive connectivity and impacts on navigable waters regardless of surface water connectivity. The report can be found here.
The ongoing debate over the alteration of the definition of the Waters of the US has been heating up since the elections in November. During the Cromnibus negotiations in December the language to prevent the finalization of the rule was stripped from the final version of the spending bill. As could be expected from the now Republican controlled Congress, both Houses are demonstrating an interest in halting the finalization of the regulation as it currently stands, while President Obama maintains his threat to veto any bill that stops the finalization of the the new regulation. IMA-NA continues our engagement on the issue and will keep members abreast of any important developments.
To read more about the Joint Hearing click here.