Hundreds of business groups want EPA water rule scrapped

The Chamber of Commerce joined 374 business groups Wednesday in telling the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw its rule redefining its jurisdiction over ponds and streams.

The proposed rule, known as “waters of the United States,” would increase federal authority over individual and business use of water and land, the group said.

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“If the proposed rule becomes final, EPA’s revision of the definition of ‘waters of the U.S.’ would expand its regulatory jurisdiction to almost all waters of the U.S., including ditches, ponds and streams,” William Kovacs, the group’s senior vice president for environmental policy, said in a statement.

“This rule will have a far-reaching impact and make it even more difficult to create opportunities and jobs in this country,” he said.

Many of the groups on the comment filing are local and state chambers of commerce. But other national groups are included, such as the American Farm Bureau Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Mining Association.

The rule, proposed in March, has met resistance. Republicans and business groups, largely centered around agriculture, have charged that the rule would extend federal authority under the Clean Water Act to dry creekbeds, puddles and decorative ponds, among other places.

That would mean landowners like farmers and contractors might need federal permits for everyday activities.

The House voted in September to block the rule, largely along party lines, and Senate Republicans have sponsored a similar measure to obstruct the EPA.

Comments on the proposal are due to the EPA on Friday.