The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved in a vote along party lines (12-7) the Clean Water Restoration Act (S. 787), empowering the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers with authority far beyond the original Clean Water Act
Sources: CP staff; National Association of Home Builders, Washington, D.C.; National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Silver Spring, Md.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved in a vote along party lines (12-7) the Clean Water Restoration Act (S. 787), empowering the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers with authority far beyond the original Clean Water Act. By changing the 1972 law’s scope from navigable waters of the United States to waters of the United States, the legislation extends the federal government’s reach to storm sewers, retention basins, roadside ditches, seasonal streams, and any activities affecting all waters in the country.
In a legislative alert leading up to the EPW Committee’s June 18 meeting, NRMCA Government Affairs staff noted how the new Act, through the EPA and Corps, expands federal government oversight to all wet areas in a ready mixed operation–groundwater, washout ponds, settlement basins and water-reclaiming facilities. According to NRMCA, the bill’s loosely defined new terms hold unnecessary and overreaching regulatory implications that could adversely affect ready mixed concrete plants, trucks and operations. For the first time in the CWA’s 36-year history, activities that have no impact on actual rivers and lakes would be subject to full federal regulation and permitting processes.
In a letter to EPW Committee members, NAHB argues, The expansion of federal jurisdiction proposed by S. 787 will lead to many more projects requiring federal permits and exacerbate permitting delays, which will increase construction costs and drive down housing affordability. As the housing industry, and the national economy as a whole, try to claw their way out of this recession, now is not the time to increase the cost of homeownership.
NRMCA asks member companies to send letters to their respective senators urging their opposition to S. 787. Additional information on the bill and the industry’s response to the committee vote can be obtained from NRMCA Director of Government Affairs Kevin Walgenbach, 240/485-1157, [email protected].