GOP chairman: White House ‘running rogue’ on water rule

GOP chairman: White House ‘running rogue’ on water rule
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A Senate chairman is accusing the Obama administration of “going rogue” and enforcing major pieces of a water pollution regulation despite a court hold.

Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Pentagon vows more airstrike transparency Senate GOP threatens to block defense bill    Outcry grows over Russian missile test that hit satellite MORE (R-Okla.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, is using the report on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to pressure Democrats to support a bill overturning the controversial Clean Water Rule.

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The Tuesday report says the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are already defining federal jurisdiction over water and land broadly, regulating some farming practices that should be exempt and taking other actions that would be codified if the water rule were to be enforced.

“This new majority committee report demonstrates in detail that the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, under the Obama administration, are running rogue,” Inhofe said in a statement.

“Case studies in this report show that the Obama administration is already asserting federal control over land and water based on the concepts they are trying to codify in the [water] rule, even though the courts have put that rule on hold.”

EPA spokeswoman Monica Lee said the agency would review the report and respond to it.

The agencies made the rule final last year in an attempt to assert federal control over certain small water bodies like wetlands and ponds. Under it, any actions that could harm covered water bodies require federal permits.

The administration argues that the new rule is necessary to ensure that downstream water bodies, often used for drinking water or recreation, are properly protected from pollution.

Inhofe is hoping the report can garner some more Democratic support for a bill he co-sponsored to overturn the rule and make the agencies go back to the drawing board.

Just before a failed Senate vote on that bill last year, 10 Democrats and Sen. Angus KingAngus KingAmazon, Facebook, other large firms would pay more under proposed minimum tax, Warren's office says Senators look to defense bill to move cybersecurity measures Energy information chief blames market for high fuel prices MORE (I-Maine) sent a letter asking the federal agencies to make sure the regulation treats farmers properly. But they all voted against the bill that would have overturned it.

The new report says that the EPA and Army Corps aren’t meeting the Democrats’ expectations.

“This report should be evidence enough that it's time for Democrats and Republicans to work together to rein in EPA and the Corps,” he said.

A federal court last year put the Clean Water Rule, also known as Waters of the United States, on hold while courts consider legal challenges to it.