30 GOP senators sponsor bill to stop EPA’s water rule

Thirty Republican senators signed onto legislation Thursday to stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to redefine its jurisdiction over land and water under the Clean Water Act.

The bill would “stop the Environmental Protection Agency from taking over all private and state water in the United States,” Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said in a statement.

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The rule, which the EPA proposed in March along with the Army Corps of Engineers, seeks to clarify the federal government’s authority under the Clean Water Act after a number of court cases made it unclear. The agency said the rule would not significantly change its power, but Republicans and business groups disagree.

“After already calling on the EPA and Army Corps to withdraw the proposed rule, I want to make sure that the expansion of regulatory jurisdiction over ‘Waters of the United States’ is shelved for good,” Roberts said. “This straightforward legislation prohibits the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Secretary of the Army from finalizing the rule or trying a similar regulation in the future.”

Roberts said the rule is a “massive land grab by the federal government.” Republicans and business interests have said very few bodies of water would escape the EPA’s power under the rule, including land that is wet only a few times a year.

The House’s proposed bill for funding energy and water programs in fiscal 2015 would block the Army Corps’ ability to work on the rule. The EPA’s funding is part of a separate bill that House Republicans have not yet unveiled. 

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