Wednesday, July 16, 2014

House Committee Advances Bills Restricting U.S. EPA Clean Water Activities

On Wednesday, July 16, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced three pieces of legislation during a Committee mark-up session.  The bills would limit the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) ability to apply Clean Water Act protections to surface waters under various situations. On a voice vote, the Committee passed H.R. 5078, the "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014."  That bill would prohibit the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from "developing, finalizing, adopting, implementing, applying, administering, or enforcing" a proposed rule that attempts to clarify those streams and wetlands that are subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act (known as the "Waters of the U.S." rule).

The Committee also approved H.R. 5077, the "Coal Jobs Protection Act of 2014" (by a vote of 28-24) - a bill that would prevent the EPA from enforcing an existing 2011 guidance on mountaintop-removal mining and streamline permitting, and defining the term "fill material" to include mining debris (that otherwise could be used to fill federally-regulated streams).  And the Committee passed H.R. 4854, the "Regulatory Certainty Act of 2014" (on a 33-22 vote), which would restrict the EPA's ability to veto Clean Water Act Section 404 Army Corps of Engineers dredge-and-fill permits to that time period within the actual Army Corps' permitting process, not before or after permitting.

While the bills may see House floor activity and passage in the near future, there is little chance that any would gain traction in the Democratically-controlled Senate.

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