Cochran, Wicker Renew Fight to Halt EPA Regulatory Overreach

Press Release

Date: June 5, 2013
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Environment

U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) have renewed their fight to halt the Environmental Protection Agency from using regulatory "guidance" to expand the scope of the Clean Water Act well beyond enacted law.

Cochran and Wicker are cosponsoring the Preserve the Waters of the U.S. Act (S.1006), which would prevent the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from using a guidance document finalized in February 2012 to change legal responsibilities under the Clean Water Act. It also stops the two agencies from issuing similar guidance in the future.

The Mississippi Senators, who cosponsored similar legislation in the 112th Congress, are concerned that if allowed to stand, the guidance document could subject anyone with a creek, ditch or pond on his or her property to EPA permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act. The guidance document was not subject to normal federal rulemaking process.

"This regulatory overreach by the EPA should be stopped so that property owners and businesses in Mississippi and elsewhere aren't subjected to expensive and onerous new federal regulations," Cochran said. "Consistent with the Constitution, significant changes to federal environmental policy should be initiated by the Congress."

"EPA and the Army Corps must not be allowed to move forward with their misguided attempt to increase their authority under the "Clean Water Act,'" said Wicker, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "This regulatory overreach, which unfairly impacts Mississippi businesses and family farms, will do little to improve water quality. This legislation will protect our landowners by putting a stop to the Administration's effort to sidestep public input and the normal rulemaking process."

Property owners, businesses, state and local governments could all subjected to increased regulation and permitting requirements as a result of the EPA and Army Corps effort to expand the reach of Clean Water Act through a guidance document on "Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act."

This effort to regulate through guidance significantly changes and expands what water features--such as ditches--are considered protected under the Clean Water Act. The guidance document for the first time includes ditches, groundwater, potholes and other water features to be considered for oversight under federal law.

S.1006 was introduced by Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and currently has 27 cosponsors, including Cochran and Wicker. It has been referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The Mississippi Senators voted for the Preserve the Waters of the U.S., which Barrasso offered as an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act (S.601). That amendment didn't reach the 60-vote threshold to be added to the bill, but did receive a bipartisan 52 vote majority