EPA Skirts the Law to Expand Regulatory Authority

Oct 18, 2013

Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Chris Stewart (R-Utah) today sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raising concerns over a new draft rule to greatly expand the agency’s regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Under the rule, EPA could expand its regulatory authority to include even the most isolated wetlands, streams and ditches. In their letter, the Chairmen criticize the EPA for pushing through a rule with vast economic implications before the agency’s independent reviewers at its Science Advisory Board (SAB) have had an opportunity review the underlying science, as required by law.

“A sweeping reinterpretation of EPA jurisdiction would give the agency unprecedented control over private property across the nation,” the Chairmen wrote. “Any attempt to issue a proposed rule before completing an independent examination by the agency’s own science advisors would be to put the cart before the horse.”

The Chairmen state, “In light of recent concerns raised by the small business community, the agency’s current approach to CWA jurisdiction appears to represent a rushed, politicized regulatory process lacking the proper consultation with scientific peer reviewers and the American people. If EPA has not already provided SAB with the proposed rule, the House Science Committee urges the agency to do so immediately. Under the law, the advice of scientific experts is a pre-requisite, not an afterthought.”

The letter advises the agency that the Science Committee intends to provide additional questions to the SAB panel related to the new rule in order to ensure that regulations are fashioned with a sound scientific foundation.

The full letter can be found here.