Congress Weighs In On EPA’s Jurisdiction Debate

Members of Senate and House committees met in an unusual joint session recently to address the topic of the EPA’s proposed definition of “waters of the United States” which dictates which waters are subject to EPA rules.

Those against the definition, including many farming interests, claim the definition amounts to an unwarranted expansion of EPA turf (click here).

In response, the EPA claims its proposed definition is no such expansion but only a clarification (click here).

The newly Republican-controlled Congress appears to be trying to influence the resolution while the regulations are in their comment period.

Based on the reported testimony from the EPA, however, there seems little willingness at the EPA to bow to Congress.

For background on the hearing, McClatchy Newspapers provides a helpful article (click here).

In an unrelated development, however, agricultural interests won their effort to get the EPA to withdraw a widely disliked interpretive rule that required farmers to comply with the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service standards which had been voluntary guidelines until March of 2014.

Whether the USDA’s guidelines are voluntary or mandatory remains an issue under consideration in the EPA’s proposed definition discussed above.

Capital Press, the online magazine, provides useful background on this development (click here).