GOP pledges to fight EPA water rule

House and Senate Republicans promised Wednesday to use their power to fight the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulation to clarify its jurisdiction over ponds and streams.

The GOP complained that the rule proposed in March by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers would greatly expand the federal government’s power and require permits for anything that could harm dry creek beds, puddles, reflecting pools and other wet areas.

Further, the proposal only added to the existing confusion over the Clean Water Act by farmers, developers and landowners, Republicans said at a Wednesday hearing.

“I will once again introduce legislation, working with chairman Inhofe, to stop this bureaucratic overreach,” Sen. John BarrassoJohn BarrassoGOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Black ties and french fries mingle at DC's Meridian Ball GOP seeks to block ObamaCare settlements with insurers MORE (R-Wyo.) said, referring to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

“And I urge my colleagues to once again join my in this effort with this legislation impacting waters of the United States.”

To make his point, Barrasso pointed to a map the EPA had commissioned of Wyoming showing various waterways. The map shows the water bodies that could be covered under the EPA’s “waters of the United States” rule proposed last March, Barrasso said at a joint hearing with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“Both Congress and the Supreme Court said that the federal control over water should be limited,” he said. “This map proves this rule will be doing exactly the opposite.”

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House panel, said he thinks legislation is needed.

“I think it’s time for Congress to act. I think it’s time for us to go forward and help to clarify the rule,” he said. “Because there’s no doubt that it needs to be clarified, and I don’t think this rule is going to clarify it.”

EPA head Gina McCarthy fought back against the Republicans’ characterization of the rule, saying her agency’s goal was “to make the process of identifying waters protected under the Clean Water Act easier to understand, making it more predictable and more consistent with the law and peer-reviewed science.”

McCarthy said the rule would not at all expand the EPA’s jurisdiction, and would in fact reduce it slightly from the guidance the EPA issued under the Bush administration.

As for the map Barrasso displayed, McCarthy said it is not relevant to the rule.

“They were not used specifically for the purpose that we’re here to talk about,” she said.

The House passed a bill last year that would have repealed the proposal and forced the EPA to go back to the drawing board.

In addition, more than 30 Senate Republicans signed into a letter asking the EPA to repeal the rule.