House members want EPA water rule defunded

Dozens of House lawmakers are asking the Appropriations Committee to defund a controversial Obama administration water pollution regulation.

Eighty-eight lawmakers — nearly all Republican — sent a letter to Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) Monday formally asking the committee to make defunding the Waters of the U.S. rule a priority.

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The rule is one of several Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations for which Republicans are trying to block funding, though it is one of the more popular proposed policy riders.

“As you know, the Rule is nothing more than a federal power grab by the EPA and flies in the face of two Supreme Court decisions, wreaking regulatory havoc on farmers, businesses, and families,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), chairman of that panel’s water subcommittee.

“This rule can potentially roll back the progress we have made in our nation’s water quality by instituting burdensome, duplicative permitting costs and unnecessary bureaucratic red tape,” they wrote.

The Transportation Committee has jurisdiction over the EPA's water-related functions.

The agency finalized the rule in May amid harsh criticism from Republicans, farmers, developers and other business interests.

The Obama administration argues the rule is essential to ensure that the EPA’s regulatory power extends to small waterways such as wetlands and ponds. But opponents say it gives the EPA power over dry creek beds, ditches and even puddles.

A federal court has suspended its implementation while opponents, including more than 30 states, sue to have it overturned. Additionally, the Senate voted, largely along party lines, to reverse it.