By Laura Barron-Lopez - 03/26/14 02:18 PM EDT
Republicans are hitting the Environmental Protection Agency for its latest regulation on streams and wetlands.
The agency proposed a rule in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday that seeks to clarify which waterways fall under their authority. The rule would not protect any new waters that have traditionally been exempt and does not apply to normal farming, ranching and forestry practices.
"Today’s proposed rule by the EPA and Corps of Engineers is a massive expansion of power over the nation’s water resources," said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) in a statement. "The Clean Water Act is written to include only navigable waters, but with this new rule, the agencies are giving themselves the authority to regulate everything from the nation’s largest rivers to small irrigation ditches found on family farms in Oklahoma."
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also chimed in, saying the new rule would create "serious collateral damage" to the economy.
Louisiana Republican David Vitter went so far as to say the proposal may be one of the greatest property grabs in history.
Republican's have not been on good terms with the EPA under much of President Obama's second term, calling the agency's carbon emissions rules a "war on coal" and energy jobs.
That reaction is exactly what EPA head Gina McCarthy sought to ward off ahead of time, saying the rule is not an expansion of the agency's powers in the slightest.
Another Lousiana senator, and vulnerable Democrat facing reelection in the upcoming midterms, Mary Landrieu, joined in on the criticism.
"Today's proposed rule by the EPA represents yet another example of this agency overreaching and stepping outside of its bounds without thought to the economic consequences of its actions," Landrieu said.
"This decision lacks common sense and will hamper our nation’s efforts to increase domestic energy production, create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and break the oppressive grip of tyrants and dictators across the globe," she said.
Landrieu threatened legislation that would block or reverse the proposed rule.
Conservation advocates, however, applauded the proposal for providing certainty, and protecting streams and wetlands that are presently in legal limbo.