Today the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved several bills related to the regulation of the Nation's waters -- legislation to provide greater regulatory certainty, protect and maintain the balanced federal-state regulatory partnership, and prevent overreach by the federal government.
The following measures were approved during today's markup:
The Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 (H.R. 5078), introduced by U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL), is bipartisan legislation to uphold the federal-state partnership in regulating the Nation's waters and prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing a rule that broadens the scope of the Clean Water Act and expands the federal government's regulatory power.
"I am pleased the Committee has acted in a bipartisan fashion to recognize the role that states must play in regulating waters within their respective boundaries," Southerland said. "By turning back the administration's brazen power grab, we've stood in defense of a federal-state partnership that has worked for 40 years. As a result, we've taken the first step in restoring certainty for the farmers, manufacturers, and construction and transportation industries driving economic growth."
The Regulatory Certainty Act (H.R. 4854), introduced by Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), defines the exact period of time the Environmental Protection Agency is allowed to restrict or deny a Clean Water Act dredge and fill (wetlands) permit under Section 404(c), and clarifies that the EPA does not have the authority to disapprove or revoke such a permit before the Army Corps of Engineers has completed its review of a permit application or after the Corps of Engineers has issued the permit.
"I am pleased that the Regulatory Certainty Act of 2014 was voted out of committee today," said Gibbs. "This bipartisan bill will make common sense reforms to the environmental review process by clarifying the EPA's veto authority under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act and ensuring that the EPA does not kill a project without just cause. The EPA should not be denying permits before they are ever even applied for, or revoking permits without a violation. This bill ensures that the environment is protected, businesses have certainty, and more jobs can be created."
The Coal Jobs Protection Act of 2014 (H.R. 5077), introduced by U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), preserves the authority of each state to make determinations relating to the state's water quality management program, and restricts the EPA's ability to second-guess or delay a state's permitting and water quality standards decisions.
"Five thousand fewer West Virginians are employed as coal miners today compared to two years ago, and this administration's policies and the EPA's regulatory assault on the coal industry account for most of these job losses," Capito said. "The Coal Jobs Protection Act is a critical step in fighting back against this administration's anti-coal policies and holding the EPA accountable for the consequences of their actions. No longer will the EPA be able to drag its feet in making permitting decisions or avoid holding public hearings on new regulations. By restoring authority to state governments, we will ensure that economic and environmental needs of communities are addressed by the people who know these concerns the best -- the people who live there -- not by Washington bureaucrats. I will continue to bring the voice of West Virginia workers and families to Washington as I fight for policies that grow our economy and create jobs."
The Committee also approved 27 General Services Administration Capital Investment and Leasing Program resolutions that will result in $914 million in taxpayer savings through space reductions, space consolidations, and avoided lease costs. Furthermore, the Committee passed H. Con. Res. 103, authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the District of Columbia Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run; and H.R. 3044 -- to approve the transfer of Yellow Creek Port properties in Iuka, Mississippi.