NW&RA Asks EPA to Withdraw Its “Waters of the US” Proposal

Nov. 14, 2014

WASHINGTON (Nov. 12, 2014) -The National Waste & Recycling Association (NW&RA) today joined with more than 300 trade associations and chambers from 50 states representing a wide range of industries to voice strong concerns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ flawed proposed rule to dramatically expand the scope of federal authority over water and land uses across the U.S. and called for the proposal to be withdrawn. The effort was led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

About this issue, NW&RA President and CEO Sharon H. Kneiss stated, “Our members work daily to protect the environment by ensuring proper management of waste whether through composting, recycling or landfilling. They routinely engage in dialog with the public and educate on our environmental processes forging a bond of trust. However, these regulations make them vulnerable to unwarranted citizen suits resulting in needless expense.”

As the groups’ comments state, “The proposed rule is really about the Agencies’ overreaching attempt to replace longstanding state and local control of land uses near water with centralized federal control. In light of the overwhelming evidence that the proposed rule would have a devastating impact on businesses, states and local governments without any real benefit to water quality, the Agencies should immediately withdraw the waters of the U.S. proposal and begin again. The current proposed rule is simply too procedurally and legally flawed to repair.”

The comments detail several examples of the impacts of the proposed rule, including:

  • Maps prepared by EPA show the rule could expand federal jurisdiction over waters from 3.5 million river and stream miles to well over 8 million river and stream miles;
  • The rule would make most ditches into “tributaries.” Routine maintenance activities in ditches and on-site ponds and impoundments could trigger permits that can cost $100,000 or more;
  • These permitting requirements would likely trigger additional environmental reviews that would add years to the completion time for ordinary projects;
  • Even if a project can get a permit, firms will often have to agree to mitigate environmental “damage” with costly restoration/mitigation projects;
  • The proposal would likely also result in more stringent storm water management requirements, which would affect retailers, companies with large parking lots, “big box” stores, etc.

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