Hurd on the Hill: EPA Regulations - Clear as Mud

March 23, 2015
Hurd on the Hill: Local Columns

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but the only reason that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to regulate dry creek beds is because they want to get on your property. That’s unacceptable.

Trying to redefine what constitutes a navigable waterway is another example of overreach from this administration. The proposed Water of the United States (WOTUS) rules, like almost all government regulations, are vague and confusing. But it’s concerning that drainage ponds or normally dry shallow ditches may come under their jurisdiction. Actually, it’s more than concerning. It’s a dangerous power grab that will give government unprecedented control over private property.

The fact that the maps detailing the proposed rules were created in secret and kept from the public for so long should send up red flags for everyone, especially since they come from an administration that claims to be the most transparent in history.

The truth is that the rules stand to negatively affect every American in one way or another – but the agriculture industry will feel the impact to a greater degree. Under these rules, many of the common, every-day practices of farming and ranching will suddenly require federal permits. The uncertainty behind these complex rules will mean that farmers and ranchers will have to operate at continuous risk of incurring fines or facing government lawsuits.

These rules will affect you even if you are not a farmer or a rancher. If you consume the products they produce, be prepared to pay more as their cost increases reverberate into your life in their efforts to remain compliant with the rules.

I represent many of these people and on their behalf, I’m telling the EPA, ‘That’s enough.” It’s time to rein in EPA red tape.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives started the process by passing two reform bills that will make the EPA more accountable and more transparent. The science behind any EPA rules should be accessible, reproducible and undisputed. And the objectives should never, ever be political in nature.

These bills are a start, but it’s not enough.

Last week, I joined my colleagues in a letter to the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee requesting that they prohibit the use of any funds to be used for the WOTUS proposed rule.

Congress needs to make sure that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers continue to define navigable waterways the way it’s always been defined, as well. We also need to continue increasing public oversight of the regulatory process, giving the public, local governments and other stakeholders the opportunity to chime in before rules are put into place.

 Putting more sunshine on the process of creating laws and regulations is always a good thing.

###