Obama’s Water War: ‘An Unprecedented Power Grab’

Bipartisan Opposition To EPA Overreach Grows, As Allegations Surface That EPA Astroturf Effort Might Have Broken The Law


‘A Nightmare’ - Obama Administration Attempts To Seize Control Of 60% Of U.S. Bodies of Water

“Barack Obama's water war… a massive power grab by Washington.” (“Barack Obama's Water War,” Politico, 5/27/15)

“President Obama on Wednesday announced a sweeping new clean water regulation meant to restore the federal government’s authority to limit pollution in the nation’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands. The rule, which would apply to about 60 percent of the nation’s bodies of water, comes as part of a broader effort by Mr. Obama to use his executive authority to build a major environmental legacy” (“Obama Announces New Rule Limiting Water Pollution,” New York Times, 5/27/15)

  • 375 TRADE ASSOCIATIONS: “This rule will have a far-reaching impact and make it even more difficult to create opportunities and jobs in this country. EPA's actions are just wrong and the U.S. Chamber has brought together organizations from across the country to call for this proposal to be immediately withdrawn." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Press Release, 11/12/14)

“Farmers fear that the rule could impose major new costs and burdens, requiring them to pay fees for environmental assessments and to obtain permits just to till the soil near gullies, ditches or dry streambeds where water flows only when it rains.” (“Obama Announces New Rule Limiting Water Pollution,” New York Times, 5/27/15)


House & Senate Work To Stop ‘Dangerously Overreaching’ EPA

The Regulatory Integrity Protection Act passed the House of Representatives 261-155. (H.R.1732, Roll Call Vote #219, Passed 261-155: R 237-0; D 24-155, 5/12/15)

  • “The House voted Tuesday to overturn an Obama administration rule aimed at redefining which streams, ponds, wetlands and other waterways are under its jurisdiction. Passage of the legislation, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Secretary of the Army to withdraw the proposed regulation within 30 days and craft a new one, fell largely along party lines by a vote of 261-155.” (“House Passes Bill To Stop EPA Water Rule,” The Hill, 5/12/15)

Sen. John Barrasso’s Amendment Reigning In The EPA Passed The Senate 59-40. (S.Amdt. 347 To S.Con.Res. 11, Roll Call Vote #88, Passed 59-40: R 53-0; D 5-39; I 1-1)


Dem Senator: ‘The EPA Is Once Again Dangerously Overreaching’

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): “The EPA’s rule represents an unprecedented power grab by the Obama Administration that will hurt farm families, job creation, home construction, roads, and energy development in Missouri and nationwide. The Administration has no business regulating puddles, ditches, and ponds across the country.” (“Sen. Roy Blunt, Press Release, 5/27/15)

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): “Today, the EPA is once again dangerously overreaching its boundaries by expanding the definition of water sources it can regulate,” Senator Manchin said. “It is completely unreasonable that our country’s ditches, puddles and other un-navigable waters be subjected to the same regulations as our greatest lakes and rivers, and implementing this rule will certainly have a significant impact on West Virginia’s economy, hindering businesses, manufacturing and energy production. 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. I urge my colleagues to take immediate action on the bipartisan Water Quality Protection Act to rein in this harmful rule.” (Sen. Manchin, Press Release, 5/27/15)

SEN. HEIDI HEITKAMP (D-ND): “‘There is not one single federal regulation in the entire country that has caused more concern in the state of North Dakota than this Waters of the United States proposed regulation,’ Heitkamp said. ‘There is incredible uncertainty out there.’” (“Senators Target Obama’s Water Rule,” The Hill, 4/30/15)

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): “Instead of reaching a reasonable solution, today the EPA has ignored millions of Americans and taken more control over private land in our country. There is bipartisan agreement that Washington bureaucrats have gone beyond their authority and have no business regulating irrigation ditches, isolated ponds and other ‘non-navigable’ waters as waters of the United States. Under this outrageously broad rule, Washington will have control over how family farmers, ranchers and small businesses not only use their water, but also their privately owned land.” (Sen. Barrasso, Press Release, 5/27/15)

SEN. JOE DONNELLY (D-IN): “That is why it is incredibly important that the EPA rewrite the Waters of the United States rule with input from the people who live and work on the land and alongside these waters every day. I am proud to work on this bipartisan legislation because Democrats and Republicans can agree that the EPA needs to consult with states, small businesses, and farmers on something so critical as defining ‘Waters of the U.S.’ in a common sense way—something they failed to do the first time.” (Sen. Donnelly, Press Release, 4/30/15)


EPA’s ‘Highly Unusual’ Actions Criticized

EPA Engaged In ‘A Campaign That Tests The Limits Of Federal Lobbying Law,’ A ‘Stark … Effort To Generate Endorsements’

“Obama administration officials are being accused of improperly lobbying to solicit public support for a proposed rule on fighting water pollution.” (“EPA Accused Of Improper Lobbying For Water Rule,” The Hill, 5/19/15)

“In a campaign that tests the limits of federal lobbying law, the agency orchestrated a drive to counter political opposition from Republicans and enlist public support in concert with liberal environmental groups and a grass-roots organization aligned with President Obama.” (“Critics Hear E.P.A.’s Voice In ‘Public Comments’,” New York Times, 5/18/15)

“At minimum, the actions of the agency are highly unusual.” (“Critics Hear E.P.A.’s Voice In ‘Public Comments’,” New York Times, 5/18/15)

“The Obama administration is the first to give the E.P.A. a mandate to create broad public outreach campaigns, using the tactics of elections, in support of federal environmental regulations before they are final.” (“Critics Hear E.P.A.’s Voice In ‘Public Comments’,” New York Times, 5/18/15)

“The Justice Department, in a series of legal opinions going back nearly three decades, has told federal agencies that they should not engage in substantial ‘grass-roots’ lobbying, defined as “communications by executive officials directed to members of the public at large, or particular segments of the general public, intended to persuade them in turn to communicate with their elected representatives on some issue of concern to the executive.” (“Critics Hear E.P.A.’s Voice In ‘Public Comments’,” New York Times, 5/18/15)

  • ELLEN STEEN, American Farm Bureau Federation: ‘Exactly what the Anti-Lobbying Act is meant to prevent’ “The agency has relentlessly campaigned for the rule with tweets and blogs, not informing the public about the rule but influencing the public to advocate for the rule…That is exactly what the Anti-Lobbying Act is meant to prevent.” (“Critics Hear E.P.A.’s Voice In ‘Public Comments’,” New York Times, 5/18/15)
  • JEFFREY LUBBERS, Law Professor: “‘The agency is supposed to be more of an honest broker, not a partisan advocate in this process,’ said Jeffrey W. Lubbers, a professor of practice in administrative law at the American University Washington College of Law and the author of the book ‘A Guide to Federal Agency Rulemaking.’ ‘I have not seen before from a federal agency this stark of an effort to generate endorsements of a proposal during the open comment period,’ he said. (“Critics Hear E.P.A.’s Voice In ‘Public Comments’,” New York Times, 5/18/15)



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