By U. S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL2)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – UPDATE: As you may know, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed a new, aggressive rule that would redefine the meaning of “waters of the United States” to vastly expand the agency’s power to regulate small streams, ditches and ponds – even on private lands.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve met with many throughout Alabama’s Second Congressional District who expressed concerns about this rule proposal. Alabama farmers, foresters and regular property owners don’t want the heavy hand of the federal government unnecessarily encroaching on their land to regulate basically anything that collects water.
My colleague and our neighbor to the south, Representative Steve Southerland (R-FL) introduced the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act (H.R. 5078) to prevent the EPA from developing, finalizing, implementing or otherwise going forward with this outrageous rule. I am a cosponsor of this bill, and I was proud to support it as it passed this week by a bipartisan vote of 262-152.
Everyone agrees there should be reasonable rules to ensure our waters are safe and clean. But water regulations should make sense, and this kind of unnecessary, unilateral regulation from the federal government could result in farmers, foresters and other landowners facing sudden and drastic increases in compliance costs.
In addition to stopping this particular rule, our bill requires the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to consult with states and local governments on future water regulations. That’s nothing new, by the way. The federal-state partnership for rule making has long existed, and our bill simply upholds it. Bringing local stakeholders into the decision-making process ultimately results in more consensus among those affected and more sensible rules.
I am opposed to this kind of “backdoor legislating,” in which government agencies like the EPA decide to single-handedly impose new, aggressive regulations. Our Constitution separates the powers of government among the three branches, and set up system of checks and balances to ensure the people – not the government – are ultimately in charge. Our laws have legitimacy because they are passed by representatives elected by and accountable to the people. That system is undermined when politically appointed bureaucrats in federal agencies are allowed to impose unilateral, binding regulations.
Stopping these regulatory overreaches from the Executive Branch has been and continues to be one of my top priorities in Congress.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. She is currently serving her second term.