EPA’s WOTUS Rule “Insults Property Owners”

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy delivered a speech at the National Farmers Union this week in which she tried to assuage doubts over a proposed rule to greatly expand the agency’s authority to regulate waters covered under the Clean Water Act. The proposal, known as “Waters of the United States,” has drawn the ire of farmers, ranchers, property owners, and local governments, who fear the vague language contained in EPA’s rule could result in the regulation of “puddles, ponds, ditches” and even land that is only wet when it rains.

The Heritage Foundation’s Daren Bakst explains how McCarthy’s speech “insults property owners” by downplaying the far-reaching implications of EPA’s proposal:

Under the proposed rule, the EPA and Corps would deem nearly any type of water to be jurisdictional [meaning regulated by EPA]. For example, the new proposed rule would regulate all ditches, except in narrow circumstances. The rule would apply to tributaries that have ephemeral flow and depressions in land that contain water only when it rains. Further, the rule is so vague that property owners probably should assume a water body is covered under the law, unless it falls under one of the limited exceptions in the rule.

This overreach means that property owners will be required to secure far more permits than ever before. McCarthy makes it sound as if this isn’t a big deal because, after all, according to her, these individuals and businesses just want to pollute. Even the connotation of pollute is misleading because it suggests, for example, some business dumping toxic waste in a pristine water. Her statement is both misleading and insulting.

The Waters of the United States rule is just one more example of overreach from the federal government. To read Mr. Bakst’s full piece, click here.

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