May 05, 2015

Bipartisan measure: Manchin, Capito target EPA

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., are taking renewed and necessary steps to address the continued overreach of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The “Water Quality Protection Act” supported by Manchin, Capito, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., seeks to address long-standing concerns regarding a rule proposed by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to redefine the “waters of the U.S.” definition under the Clean Water Act.

The proposed rule stems from a draft guidance document on “waters of the U.S.” that was originally released in 2011, according to Manchin and Capito.

The proposed legislation would correctly ensure that states and local communities are consulted in meaningful ways on rules before they are formally proposed, especially if the rule will have a significant impact on future investments, capital costs, operations and mandates for the people directly impacted.

“With the prospect of tens of thousands of jobs on the line, the EPA cannot overreach its authority, yet again, by expanding the definition of water sources it can regulate,” Manchin said. “This bipartisan legislation lays out specific guidelines on what the EPA is allowed to oversee. The bottom line is that no federal agency should go around Congress to control what has not been legislated, especially when its actions will harm economic growth. Our top priority must be creating and protecting American jobs. That’s my commitment to the Mountain State and this country, and I will continue to fight for our families and West Virginia jobs every day.”

“EPA’s proposed Waters of the United States rule threatens to impede small businesses, agriculture, and coal and natural gas production in West Virginia,” Capito added. “This is a burden our state simply cannot afford. There is no question that we want to protect our drinking water sources and our precious natural resources, but a rule that will subject puddles and ditches to regulation would lead to a massive expansion of costly permitting requirements on farmers, energy producers, small businesses and manufacturers. The Federal Water Quality Protection Act will rein in this proposed rule and protect West Virginia from the threat of yet another overreaching EPA regulation.”

We agree, and we applaud Manchin, Capito, Barrasso, Donnelly, Inhofe, Heitkamp and Roberts for supporting this important, common sense measure.

All efforts must be made to rein in the EPA before even more damage is done to the coalfields of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.