WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R- Neb.) cosponsored a bill preventing Obama Administration efforts to expand federal regulatory jurisdiction. The bill, authored by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), prevents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) from finalizing a proposed rule that would ignore limits established by Congress regarding regulation of bodies of water in the United States. If finalized, the rule would expand federal regulatory authority beyond navigable waters, which was the scope of jurisdiction established by Congress.
“This proposal amounts to a massive power grab by EPA, which has demonstrated time and again that it is out of touch and out of control,” Johanns said. “Imposing more regulatory burdens on American families, farmers and job creators is the last thing we need from an Administration that has repeatedly pushed the envelope beyond congressional authority. EPA needs to scrap this proposed rule and refocus its efforts within the boundaries set by Congress.”
The proposed rule, which has generated much uncertainty in the agriculture community, would expand federal jurisdiction of U.S. water under the Clean Water Act to include water that has even the remotest connection to traditionally navigable waters, such as farm ponds, ditches, streambeds, and even low lying areas that may be dry for much of the year.
Johanns cosponsored similar efforts to revoke the EPA-ACE rule during Senate consideration of an energy efficiency bill in May, but Democratic leadership blocked all amendments, and the bill failed to pass. Johanns also sent several letters to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy expressing opposition to the rule.