Walden: EPA ignores 170 Congress Members

Greg Walden: EPA ignores 170 members of Congress
Releases “Guidance” that Expands Clean Water Act Jurisdiction Against Members’ Wishes
By Congressman Greg Walden

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) released the following statement in response to the Obama Administration’s release of a “guidance document” that greatly broadens the scope of what waters and areas can be regulated by the EPA and Corps of Engineers under the federal Clean Water Act.

Last week, Rep. Walden and 169 members of Congress sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressing strong concern about the agency’s plans to circumvent the proper regulatory rulemaking process and push through a dramatic expansion of federal control over non-navigable areas that previous congresses were not supportive.

“I am disappointed that the administration ignored the objections of so many and is pushing through this guidance that will bring new land and features under the scope of the Clean Water Act,” Rep. Walden said. “I’m pro-clean water and very supportive of improving the cleanliness of our water, but am worried that this guidance will dramatically shift the focus of our clean water laws to questionable areas to the detriment of our rural communities and businesses who operate in them. I look forward to congressional committees holding oversight hearings to shine a light on this expansion of federal control and the process by which they are going about it.”

“This is just one more example in a stunning series of regulatory maneuvers by this administration to tighten its grip around the way of life in the West,” Rep. Walden added. “Growing up on a cherry orchard in The Dalles, I’ve long appreciated the importance of clean air and water and know that Oregon’s farmers, ranchers and business owners take great pride in protecting these valuable and scarce resources.”

The effect of the guidance will be to reverse decisions by the United States Supreme Court that recognized limits to the federal government’s regulatory authority, and to undermine the long-standing federal-state partnership in the regulation of waters. This expansion will result in confusion, permitting delays, and added costs and burdens for communities, farmers, small businesses, industries and other Americans.

The Administration has issued this so-called guidance before conducting any rulemaking, which violates the principles of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the intent of Congress in enacting this law. The APA sets the standards for the activities and rule making of all federal regulatory agencies, and is designed to ensure those federal agencies use open, uniform, and fair procedures. The requirements of the APA are not mere formalities.

In unilaterally developing its guidance, the Administration has ignored calls from state agencies and environmental groups, among others, to proceed through the normal rulemaking procedures, and has avoided consulting with the states, which are the federal agencies’ partners in implementing the Clean Water Act. Only now is it seeking public comment on its fully formed policy.

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