BCA to EPA, Corps of Engineers: Ditch the Proposed WOTUS Rule

Business Council of Alabama President and CEO William J. Canary today wrote the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the BCA opposes their goal of redefining the “waters of the United States” as an unneeded and unjustified expansion of federal authority.

The BCA also joined 375 associations and chambers of commerce from 50 states voicing strong concern to U.S. EPA Administrator Regina McCarthy and Assistant Army Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy that their proposal to dramatically extend the scope of federal authority over water and land used is “deeply flawed.”

A proposed new EPA-Corps rule is an attempt to extend Clean Water Act regulation to watershed areas of rivers and streams despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the areas are not covered by the 37-year-old law.

The organizations want the proposal withdrawn because it is really about the two agencies’ overreaching attempt to replace longstanding state and local control of land uses near water with centralized federal control.

“The Rule seeks to bring within the Agencies’ power every water and land that happens to lie within giant floodplains on the supposition that those waters and lands may connect to national waters after a once-in-decade rainstorm,” Canary’s letter said.

The BCA said the Clean Water Act was designed to ensure that the primary responsibility of land and water resources belong to states. “Yet, the Proposed Rule violates these mandatory principles, and seeks to place the lions’ share of intrastate water and land management in the hands of the Federal Government,” the BCA said.

EPA maps show that the rule could expand federal jurisdiction over waters from 3.5 million river and stream miles to well over 8 million river and stream miles.

The proposed rule withdrawal request is led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“The Agencies have neither the resources nor the on-ground capability to assume control of the nation’s water infrastructure and associated land uses,” the letter states. “If it were finalized, the Agencies’ proposed rule would have profoundly negative economic impacts on business, states, local governments, and ultimately, on EPA and the Corps themselves.

“In light of the overwhelming evidence that the proposed rule would have a devastating impact on businesses, states, and local governments without any real benefit to water quality, the Agencies should immediately withdraw the waters of the U.S. proposal and begin again,” the letter states. “The current proposed rule is simply too procedurally and legally flawed to repair.”

-Dana Beyerle