Senate Pushback on WOTUS Expected Next Year


By Todd Neeley, DTN STaff Reporter

Although many Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are making a 12th-hour attempt to attach riders to a $1.1 trillion spending bill to reign in the EPA on a number of fronts — possibly including the proposed rule to redefine waters of the U.S. in the Clean Water Act — it is likely Washington, D.C., pushback on EPA will begin to intensify when the new Congress comes into power in January.

The agency received more than 1 million public comments prior to the comment period that closed on Nov. 15. So far, EPA has stated publicly that it is on track to finalize the rule in spring 2015, despite what has been substantive concerns raised about the rule. Congressional efforts to defund EPA or place other restrictions on the agency likely won't gain any ground here in the lame duck session.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told DTN Tuesday morning he expects the Republican-led Senate, however, to take up legislation aimed at EPA next year.

“I don't think we're going to have a lot of riders” this year, he said. “It's a power grab by EPA and we can't let them get away with it. Next year I expect we're going to neuter what EPA is doing on waters of the U.S.”

It remains to be seen how agriculture and other industries will respond to EPA if the agency finalizes the rule by next spring. There is a thought that ag industry groups are willing to work legislative channels until there is nowhere else to go outside of court.

At the end of November, a bipartisan group of 90 House members asked the leaders of the House committee on appropriations in a letter to withhold funding to EPA on the rule.

If EPA moves forward with finalizing the rule next spring despite pushback from a wide swath of industries, state leaders and federal leaders, and even among state-level environmental quality agencies, there is expected to be some question about whether the EPA completed its due diligence in addressing concerns raised about the rule.




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Posted by Jami Howell

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