House Sends Shot Across the Bow of the EPA on Water Rule

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The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation that proponents contend would prevent federal overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

September 16, 2014

 In a 262-152 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives last week approved legislation that would prevent federal overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), which bill supporters contend would harm individual landowners and home buyers and impact economic growth.

The Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, or H.R. 5078, championed by Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., prohibits the EPA and the Corps from finalizing a proposed rule that would dramatically increase their authority over “waters of the U.S.” to include almost any body of water, such as ditches, mudflats, prairie potholes, and other water features. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) strongly supported the legislation, noting that allowing these agencies to radically increase their jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act would impede the fledgling housing recovery by greatly increasing the number of construction sites required to obtain permits, which would also delay and raise the cost of home building projects. Moreover, many American families would be priced out of the housing market if this rule is finalized in its current form.

“This vote sends a strong message to the EPA to go back to the drawing board to find a common-sense middle ground plan that will maintain environmental safeguards and protect landowners from unnecessary regulation,” said Kevin Kelly, NAHB Chairman and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

The NAHB is now pushing the Senate to take action on the House bill.

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