Now is the key time to tell your Members of Congress that the forthcoming final guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is bad for your business and the construction industry as a whole. The final guidance document – which describes EPA and the Corps’ view of their authority to regulate all waters and wetlands — significantly changes and expands what water features are subject to federal jurisdiction and permit requirements under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
EPA and the Corps issued draft guidance in May 2011 on “Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act.” As this guidance document moved from proposal to final form, concerns, including those raised in AGC’s comments, were not addressed. The guidance document, which was sent in final form to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Feb. 21, 2012, significantly changes and expands what water features are considered protected under the Clean Water Act. This increase in jurisdiction could increase construction costs and project delays with expensive permits that take years to obtain. There is already an extensive backlog of these Section 404 permits, and this will likely add to it.
Legislation to stop the implementation of this guidance has already been introduced in the Senate, and now bipartisan companion legislation has been introduced in the House. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica (R-Fla.) and Ranking Democrat Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) with Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chair Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) join Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Ranking Democrat Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) to introduce the House legislation. The strong bipartisan showing from these Committees shows the far-reaching and catastrophic potential this Guidance has on some of the economy’s largest sectors.
Visit AGC’s Legislative Action Center to tell your Members of Congress that EPA has gone too far by.
For further reading, visit this story in AGC’s Environmental Observer