Army Corps of Engineers

In Either Language, Water ‘Framework’ Is More EPA Overeach

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Writing in English, Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post reports “EPA proposes stricter controls on water pollution“:

The Obama administration announced Wednesday that it will impose stricter pollution controls on millions of acres of wetlands and tens of thousands of miles of streams.

The new guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency, which will be codified in a federal regulation later this year, could prevent the dumping of mining waste and the discharge of industrial pollutants to waters that feed swimming holes and drinking water supplies. The specific restriction will depend on the waterway.

Writing in Washington bureaucratese , the EPA announces, “Obama Administration Affirms Comprehensive Commitment to Clean Water“:

WASHINGTON – Recognizing the importance of clean water and healthy watersheds to our economy, environment and communities, the Obama administration released a national clean water framework today that showcases its comprehensive commitment to protecting the health of America’s waters. The framework emphasizes the importance of partnerships and coordination with states, local communities, stakeholders and the public to protect public health and water quality, and promote the nation’s energy and economic security.

We expect a new pronouncement of economy-sapping regulation almost every day from the EPA, but does it have to be so soul-sapping, too?

The National Association of Manufacturing’s Mahta Mahdavi explains why the proposal is the latest example of bad regulation to come from the Imperial EPA in the Shopfloor post below, “The EPA Muddies the Water With Its Clean Water Act Guidance.”

The EPA Muddies the Water With Its Clean Water Act Guidance

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Today, the White House along with a number of agencies that included the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Department of Interior held several press briefings and industry calls on clean water policy.  In addition to these briefings and calls, the White House, along with the EPA and the Corps released two documents. 

The White released its comprehensive framework on clean water that highlights a vast number of initiatives that the Administration has either undertaken or will undertake.  The EPA and the Corps also released their joint guidance on the Clean Water Act.  This guidance would replace an earlier guidance released in 2008 by the previous administration that defined the scope of the Clean Water Act more narrowly.   The guidance expands the definition of the “waters of the United States,” and by extension the EPA’s and the Corps’ jurisdiction over these bodies of water.  Ultimately, this guidance serves as nothing but the continuation of the Administration’s burdensome environmental agenda that has been overwhelming manufacturers as they try to recover from one the hardest recessions.

Manchin: Bring Fair Play, Common Sense to EPA Action

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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) made his maiden speech on the floor of the Senate on Thursday, extolling the virtues of common sense and, as a logical corollary, laying into the Environmental Protection Agency. He said:

I believe it is fundamentally wrong for any bureaucratic agency, including the EPA, to regulate what has not been legislated, to have absolute power to change the rules at the end of the game and to revoke a permit, as the EPA did in southern West Virginia’s Spruce Mine, after it was lawfully granted and employees were hired. Giving any agency such absolute power will have a chilling effect on investment and job creation far beyond West Virginia.

Manchin announce introduction of the EPA Fair Play Act, intended “to check EPA’s power, protect jobs and investments in West Virginia and beyond” by preventing the agency from revoking permits that had been legally granted.

The permit for the Spruce Mine was approved after an exhaustive, approximately 10-year regulatory process that included extensive review by the EPA. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded the Section 404(c) permit, which is a requirement for constructing clean valley fills, a process used in surface coal mining. The EPA has authority under the Clean Water Act to veto Section 404(c) permits before they are awarded by the U.S. Army Corps. However, the EPA has never before attempted to veto a previously awarded and active permit.

Arch Coal was poised to invest $250 million dollars in the Spruce Mine project, which was already employing West Virginians and would have created approximately 200 good-paying jobs with benefits. The EPA’s decision to retroactively veto the permit casts serious doubt on the future of this project and others throughout the country.

Sen. Manchin’s legislation has bipartisan support from other energy-state Senators, although the principle embraced by the bill is larger than coal or mining. It goes to the fundamental rule of law in the country: Can the government arbitrarily take away what was already achieved through a legal process for political or arbitrary reasons?

UPDATE (8:20 a.m.): The bill is S. 272, A bill to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify and confirm the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to deny or restrict the use of defined areas as disposal sites for the discharge of dredged or fill material. Original osponsors are: Read More