Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 26, 2014

Republicans Set Phoenix Hearing on EPA ‘Water Grab’

gosar 057 050813 445x315 Republicans Set Phoenix Hearing on EPA Water Grab

Gosar is one of several congressmen calling new EPA rules a “water grab.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Obama administration’s move to expand regulatory control over the nation’s rivers and streams has some Republicans from the Southwest boiling mad, with a group of conservatives calling the EPA proposal a “water grab.”

Arizona Republicans David Schweikert, Paul Gosar and Matt Salmon, along with Texas Republican Lamar Smith, have set a hearing Monday in Phoenix to discuss the new rules, which critics contend would extend federal authority to small creeks, ditches and even dry washes on private land.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have said the proposed changes to the Clean Water Act, announced March 25, are needed, in the wake of recent Supreme Court rulings, to clarify the definition of waterways that meet the standards for federal jurisdiction.

The new guidance would apply Clean Water Act laws to rain-dependent streams, wetlands near rivers and other areas with a “hydrologic” connection, and is designed to protect water quality and slow the destruction of the country’s wetlands.

Environmentalists have lauded the proposal, which is subject to public comment through mid-July, but Gosar and other Republicans have said the EPA is overreaching.

The EPA has no legal authority to expand the definition of navigable waters under the Clean Water Act, as the Supreme Court has repeatedly made clear,” Gosar said in a statement earlier this month. “Only Congress has such authority.”

Skeptical Arizona ranchers and farmers have said the new EPA rules could be interpreted to apply to any private land where water runs downhill.

“Daily ranching activities like grazing cattle, plowing a field, applying fertilizer or managing weeds would now require a permit,” wrote rancher Stefanie Smallhouse, first vice president of the Arizona Farm Bureau, in a recent op-ed. “This permitting frequently takes up to two years to obtain; someone sitting at a desk far, far away would decide whether tilling my farmland is a threat to the water quality of a dry river within the 100-year floodplain.

Monday’s hearing, titled “The EPA’s Unauthorized Usurpation of State and Tribal Water Rights: Cleaning up the Clean Water Act” will be held at the state Capitol in Phoenix.

The Supreme Court in 2006 ruled the definition of “navigable waters” could not be limitless, and former President George W. Bush twice acted to limit the scope of the Clean Water Act, but environmentalists have urged the White House to further expand the types of waters subject to the law.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Secretary of the Army John McHugh, who oversees the Army Corps of Engineers, have both been invited to testify at the Phoenix hearing, and Republicans are almost certain to contest the EPA claim that the new definition will not impact farm operations.

The hearing comes as federal agencies face increasing opposition in western states from activists and libertarian-leaning conservatives who see the Obama administration’s enforcements efforts as infringements on property and personal rights.

The Bureau of Land Management backed down last month after an armed confrontation with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy over grazing fees and access to federal land.

Correction: An earlier version of this report misidentified Gosar’s hometown.

  • http://www.google.com time2bsmart

    It is bad enough as it is. You control the water and the healthcare…you control the people.

  • ericpedersen

    There is going to be a Revolution and we are going to take our country back before too long, promise

    • Texsheva

      I believe that BHO is TRYING to start a Revolution by pissing off those of us with a brain. However, once a Revolution begins, he could install Martial Law, re-education camps, and maybe even pause the election until things, “calm down.” That would be feeding right into what he wants. I hope we can hold off until after an election and see who wins & what will happen.

      • David L. Allison

        Too much Fox & Rush has caused you some serious emotional and psychological problems. Seek help.

    • David L. Allison

      Only way that you would be able to get another Republican president in the next two or three decades as there are more of us than there are of you.

      • Texsheva

        You’re probably right…especially since you Dems keep cheating & giving voting rights to the likes of Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and ALL the ILLEGAL Aliens. I couldn’t believe they really expected us to believe that in numerous precincts in Ohio that Obama had 100% of the vote. What a joke….like not one person voted for anyone besides Obama! You just keep drinking that Kool Aid…and hope you don’t choke on it.

        • David L. Allison

          So far, the only people actually found guilty of voter fraud have all been Republicans just as all of the candidates with few exceptions have been Republicans.

  • ljm4

    Watch the video on youtube called The Great Water Heist. It’ll be a rude awakening if you haven’t been paying attention. Welcome to Agenda 21…

    • Jesse4

      You ought to avoid references to agenda 21 in your posts. It makes you sound like an ignorant kook.

      • Texsheva

        I beg to differ. Agenda 21 is EXACTLY what it is! Only those with no eyes to see or ears to hear would think any differently. Educate yourself.

  • Richard

    The USEPA should be dissolved.

  • GeneralQuarters

    Mr EPA dude or dudette on my property will meet my agenda 30!

  • Profess0

    Shut the MFs Down

  • Woody Wuld Wong

    The federal government’s role here ought be mediation in disputes between states, nothing more noting less.

  • Rev. William Barber

    here it comes, hold on to your butts!

  • Bud Brota

    It would seem that gutters draining to sewer or drainage mains could fall under the definition of tributaries. If they take over our sewer and drainage, are they going to maintain them too, or issue a mandate that WE must maintain the infrastructure over which they seek control?? Are they going to bully small towns into building water treatment plants they don’t want or can’t afford??

    • Jesse4

      The EPA has a long history of making small towns build water treatment plants.
      That’s the only reason every river in the country isn’t an open sewer.

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    THE REPUBLICAN SENATE HAS FAILED THE MILLIONS OF UNEMPLOYED FAMILIES WHO HAVE BEEN WITHOUT AN UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION SINCE LAST DECEMBER. THE REPUBLICANS HAVE HELD THE EXTENSION BILL “HOSTAGE” IN THE SENATE FOR POLITICAL LEVERAGE, AND PARTY AGENDA. WHILE MILLIONS OF FAMILIES HAVE LOSS THEIR HOMES AND BECOME INDEBT, AND ARE IN FINANCIAL RUIN, THE REPUBLICANS CONTINUE DELAYING THE PASSING OF THE BILL. NOW IT’S MORE THAN FIVE MONTHS, AND IT LOOKS LIKE THE BILL WILL NEVER BE PASSED. MANY LIVES HAVE BEEN DESTROYED DUE TO THE TOTAL FAILURE AND LACK OF COMPASSION AND COMMON DECENCY OF THE REPUBLICAN SENATE. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL NOT FORGET THESE POLITICIANS IN THE COMING ELECTIONS, AND WILL VOICE THEIR CONTEMPT WITH THEIR VOTE. THESE POLITICIANS NEED TO BE OUT OF OFFICE, BECAUSE THEY HAVE CLEARLY SHOWN THEMSELVES UNWORTHY OF PUBLIC OFFICE

  • David L. Allison

    The Right wing radical Republicans demand ownership and control over all public trust resources in the United States. They are the bane of democracy and society.

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