Proposed rule would add massive scale, complexity, and uncertainty with little environmental benefit
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Deb Fischer (R-NE) yesterday introduced "The Federal Water Quality Protection Act of 2015" to rein in a proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that would significantly increase federal jurisdiction over the nation's waterways.
The rule, released jointly by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, would greatly expand the scope of "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) that would be subject to federal regulation. The Senators believe that the expanded scope goes well beyond what Congress intended and violates precedents set in Supreme Court rulings. PCA agrees.
Many U.S. industries, including the cement industry, have urged EPA to withdraw the proposed rule and instead work with state and local officials and stakeholders to develop an approach that respects the jurisdictional boundaries that have been set by Congress and affirmed by the Supreme Court. EPA has chosen to reject this balanced approach in favor of a massive expansion of federal authority.
"This bipartisan group of senators deserves a lot of credit for standing up to EPA's regulatory overreach in order to keep the states involved in regulating our nation's waterways," said James G. Toscas, president and CEO of the Portland Cement Association (PCA). "The legislation they introduced would maintain balanced state and federal roles in protecting the environment."
The nation's air and water quality rules have been very effective in eliminating pollution, and the cement industry has an exemplary record of compliance with them. Every cement plant in the United States, for example, complies with a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit that defines strict water quality guidelines that apply to well-defined waterways.
"The proposed EPA rule radically changes the definition of what water features would be subject to regulation," said Toscas. "It is so ambiguous that it could include something as minor as a temporary pool of water that forms after a rainstorm, with determinations made on a case-by-case basis. We take environmental compliance very seriously, and this vague and arbitrary approach would make compliance difficult. Most importantly, for all its massive scale, complexity, and uncertainty, the proposed EPA rule would carry very little benefit for the environment. It's regulation for the sake of regulation."
Headquartered in Skokie, Illinois with offices in Washington, D.C., PCA represents America's cement manufacturers, serving as a powerful and vocal advocate for sustainability, economic growth, sound infrastructure investment, and overall innovation and excellence in construction throughout the U.S. More information on PCA is available at www.cement.org.