Johanns, Fischer: Proposed EPA Rule Threatens American Tradition

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today expressed concern to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy that a proposed EPA Clean Water Act rule could jeopardize traditional Independence Day fireworks displays across the country.

“Fireworks shows are a beloved symbol,” Johanns said. “Unfortunately, this proposed EPA rule would expand Clean Water Act jurisdiction and therefore, increase land owners’ and municipalities’ exposure to litigation and additional federal control. This is just one of many examples of how far EPA is reaching beyond its authority to expand its regulatory agenda.”

“Once again, Nebraskans are facing the specter of more unintended consequences from heavy-handed EPA regulations – this time, it’s community firework displays,” Fischer said. “Nebraskans are responsible stewards of our land and our water. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to ensure our state’s precious natural resources remain under local control.”

In a letter with Republican colleagues, Johanns and Fischer cite ongoing litigation that has already threatened or ended fireworks displays because plaintiffs claim the activities violate the Clean Water Act. Further expansion of EPA jurisdiction under the proposed “waters of the U.S.” rule would further expose municipalities and fireworks display organizers to potential litigation in areas that are currently out of the agency’s regulatory reach.

The proposed rule would provide broad definitions for “tributaries,” “adjacent waters,” and “neighboring waters” under the Clean Water Act, greatly expanding the federal government’s authority over ditches, floodplains, farm ponds and other areas through which water may flow.

Senators David Vitter (R-La.), John Barrasso and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) also signed the letter.