WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 14, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) has called out GOP lawmakers last night for their push to adopt H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection (RIP) Act. This bill would block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from finalizing a clarifying rule determining whether certain waterways are covered under the Clean Water Act. The contested rule would reduce costly confusion and delays to permitting, and help ensure streams, wetlands, and surrounding communities are protected.
“This senseless legislation puts politics before good public policy,” said Rep. Kaptur. “Much of the pollution and nutrient runoff entering Lake Erie and other waterways originates in land that is not currently covered by the Clean Water Act. The result is toxic algal blooms and fouled beaches that endanger public health and unfairly shift costs from polluters to local communities. The EPA has done its due diligence on this new rule but Republican leaders in Congress are blundering in at the eleventh hour to throw sand in the gears and protect polluter loopholes. It makes no sense. Human beings who live in the same watershed must learn to live together for the sake of all.”
Collin O’Mara, president and chief executive officer of the National Wildlife Federation, said this of the House vote: “All Americans should have a right to clean, safe drinking water and healthy populations of fish and other aquatic life. This bill undermines protections of at-risk waters from which we drink, swim, and fish. Scuttling the process now is premature as EPA is working to clarify and improve the rule based upon sound science and the million public comments received. We urge Congress to exercise restraint until the final rule is released and to work to protect our drinking water supplies, conserve our favorite recreational waterways, and restore important habitats for numerous species of wildlife.”
Confusion over waterways covered by the Clean Water Act comes from two Supreme Court decisions (2001 and 2006) that consider whether waters and tributaries in the upper portions of a watershed, as well as isolated, intrastate, non-navigable waters, are protected under the Act. The Bush Administration added to confusion in their effort to interpret the standard, and the result has left us with an inconsistent patchwork system.
The EPA has held more than 400 public meetings to get public feedback on its clarifying rule, which was first proposed in April 2014. The bill blocking the rule was passed in the House last night by a vote of 261 to 155. The Obama Administration has threatened to veto the bill if it passes in the Senate as well.