to stop everything she's doing.
The bill would block the implementation of any pending EPA regulations and mandate a study of all existing regulations. It would require that all regulations with an economic impact of more than $50 million be approved by Congress. Imagine what that would mean in the current House of Representatives with the Republicans in charge (and aided by a pack of conservative Democrats).
Determined apparently to make his bill a direct poke in the eye, Graves timed its introduction to coincide with a visit to Missouri by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. In a statement on his website, he said:
Administrator McCarthy and the EPA will soon find out that Washington bureaucrats are becoming far too aggressive in attacking our way of life. My legislation will give the American people a voice in the regulator’s room when the President and the EPA try and go around Congress. When the EPA says that property owners, farmers, and livestock producers must stomach higher costs, longer delays, and bigger headaches, it’s up to Congress to put up a roadblock. We need a government that will act as a partner with every day Missourians, not an enemy. Administrator McCarthy should be apologizing to Missourians. EPA aggression has reached an all-time high, and now it must be stopped.”Republican and fossil fuel-state Democratic opposition to EPA regulations has been directed most intensely in the past year at the agency's announced but not-yet-implemented rules designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at new and existing electricity-generating plants. A Republican funding bill proposed this week would block the agency from imposing those CO2-limiting rules as well as developing those rules further by cutting funding for that purpose.
It would also bar the spending of any funds for the “waters of the United States rule,” formally known as Clean Water Protection Rule. The EPA is working with the Army Corps of Engineers on this. The proposed rule would redefine the federal government’s jurisdiction over bodies of water covered by Clean Water Act. This matters because covered areas must obtain government permits for certain activities. Some Republicans have called this a "land grab" that would keep farmers from engaging in traditional activities like draining ponds and digging ditches. The water rule is one of Graves' bugaboos.
You can read more about this below the fold.
In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, McCarthy labeled some of the concerns she's been hearing about the rule "ludicrous." In fact, she said, the rule includes specific exemptions for agriculture:
"Virtually every acre of private property potentially falls under Clean Water Act jurisdiction if this rule is finalized," said Garrett Hawkins, national legislative programs director for the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation. "Things you would normally do on a farm will be called into question."The government estimates that about 3 percent more bodies of water would be covered than is now the case, but that's actually less than what was prescribed by the Reagan administration. Jon Devine, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, writes that the Clean Water Act then "was applied to any water body that could serve as habitat for migrating birds; as the independent Government Accountability Office (then called the General Accounting Office) found in 2004, under that policy, 'the Corps was able to regulate almost any body of water or wetland.'" This new rule would shield only those waters with "a demonstrated and significant impact on the physical, chemical, and biological condition of downstream water bodies." That would make it easier for everyone to understand what is covered and make enforcement of the law more predictable.
McCarthy says that's hogwash. She rattled off what she said were some of the most dubious claims made by the rule's critics—including that the proposal would allow EPA to regulate puddles on people's lawns and that it would force farmers to get a permit if their cattle cross a stream.
Sensible lawmakers would view this clarification as a positive. But, among Republicans, "sensible" is a rare commodity. Especially so in the ramp-up to midterm elections when campaign ads can hammer "EPA aggression" into voters' brains with the same regularity and same snarl as "Benghazi" and "Obamacare."