AUSTIN – The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Kathleen Hartnett White, Distinguished Senior Fellow-in-Residence and the Director Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment issued the following statement on yesterday’s action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to finalize the Clean Water Act Rule, which redefines “the waters of the United States” under the federal Clean Water Act:

“EPA’s final redefinition of the meaning of ‘the waters of the United States’ under the Clean Water Act is not about water or clean water, it is about land—federal regulatory control of privately owned land. EPA’s new rule creates broad authority to imposed federal land use control on millions of acres of private land across the country. By assuming federal regulatory jurisdiction over nominally all waters in the country, EPA has seized the power to regulate basic land use. The new definition means that any ditch, ravine, pond or land that might temporarily pool water, is now subject to federal powers. Existing farming, ranching, oil and gas production, forestry, mining, building and manufacturing now could be subject to a federal permit now averaging $270,000.

“The new definition of federal waters usurps long standing state authority over water and land use and tramples on private property rights. Over thirty Governors already have opposed this EPA land grab. Reed Hopper with the Pacific Legal Foundation, which has successfully challenged EPA water authority before the Supreme Court, appropriately denounced EPA’s new definition. The new rule ‘is undoubtedly the largest expansion of power ever proposed by a federal agency.’  

“One after another expansive EPA rule—devoid of statutory or constitutional authority—is rapidly eroding the individual liberty, property rights and productivity that has made the United States the most powerful, prosperous and generous country in the world.” 

Kathleen Hartnett White is a Distinguished Senior Fellow-in-Residence and the Director for the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment. She is also former Chairman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (2001-2007).

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin, Texas.

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