By TONI ELLINGTON
On Tuesday, September 9, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to block proposed changes to the Clean Water Act which would redefine the definition of waters which are subject to regulation by the federal government. H.R. 5078, or the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014, passed the House by a vote of 262 to 152.
The proposed new definition was previously reported in this blog when it was announced on April 21, 2014, by the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA as a change to the definition of the “waters of the United States.” The definition would include seasonal and rain-dependent streams and wetlands near rivers and streams, and would bring those areas under Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdiction.
According to the Army Corps of Engineers’ and EPA’s Joint Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the accompanying press release, the definition was being changed to clarify what is a “water of the United States” following Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 which made the issue confusing and complex. However, critics of the proposed definition change claimed that it was a power grab by the EPA, and that the definition would extend the application of the Clean Water Act to ponds, ditches, culverts, and other wet areas.
The public comment period for the EPA’s and Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed rule ends on October 20, 2014.
For more information, contact Toni Ellington at (504) 599-8500.