March 25, 2014

Sen. Whitehouse Applauds EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” Rule

Washington, DC – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a proposed rule to clarify protections under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The rule is particularly important for defining the reach of the Act over smaller upstream waters, which had been thrown into question by several Supreme Court decisions.

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, strongly supports the proposed rule.

“We all have a stake in ensuring that our nation’s waters remain clean and safe.  What happens upstream affects drinking water supplies and coastal waters, like Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 with broad bipartisan support; however, Supreme Court decisions have resulted in conflicting determinations about what waters are covered by the Act.  The proposed rule announced today will reduce the case-by-case application of the Clean Water Act that costs regulators and industry time and money.  I support the EPA’s effort to reduce the frustration that has resulted from unclear jurisdiction of the CWA and applaud them for working with both the U.S. Army Corps and U.S. Department of Agriculture to craft this rule.”

Details on the proposed rule are available here.

The proposed rule released today has been years in the making.  EPA initially proposed draft guidance that languished under the review of the White House Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.  Last year Senator Whitehouse wrote to OMB Director Sylvia Burwell to criticize delays in its review process for this and other regulations.  Later in the year, EPA withdrew the proposed guidance and instead worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and consulted with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to submit the proposed rule released today.

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