200 lawmakers push EPA to rescind water regulation

More than 200 House members are calling on the Obama administration to drop its plans to expand the Environmental Protection Agency’s jurisdiction over smaller bodies of water around the country.

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers proposed the so-called Waters of the United States rule last month, seeking to clarify which bodies of water the agencies can regulate. The draft rule would include smaller wetlands and streams, and has drawn fire from critics who describe the plan as a blatant power grab.

Led by Reps. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), the lawmakers sent a forcefully worded letter Thursday to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Department of the Army Secretary John M. McHugh, asking them to withdraw the proposal.

The lawmakers say the new rule would be particularly damaging to the agricultural industry, which relies heavily on smaller water sources.

“Under this plan, there’d be no body of water in America – including mud puddles and canals – that wouldn’t be at risk from job-destroying federal regulation,” said Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

“This dramatic expansion of federal government control will directly impact the livelihoods and viability of farmers and small businesses in rural America.”

The vast majority of the letters signatories are members of the Republican Party.