The final Waters of the U.S. Rule (WOTUS) was published in the Federal Register, which makes the effective date of the new rule Aug. 28. This rule significantly expands the federal government’s jurisdiction beyond legal limits and will make permitting and expanding aggregates facilities more costly and difficult, which in turn will drive up the cost of crucial infrastructure projects.
Although existing quarry and construction pits are specifically excluded, the rule will subject additional areas, such as dry stream beds, to costly and unnecessary permit requirements.
The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) strongly opposes the WOTUS rule and urges the aggregates industry to ask senators to pass S. 1140, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, which would force a re-proposal of the rule.
“NSSGA members work diligently to protect our nation’s water resources, following existing federal, state and local laws. This rule will add significant costs to aggregates producers with little or no environmental benefit,” said NSSGA President and CEO Michael W. Johnson. “The increased costs and delays will be passed along to the taxpayers through a higher price tag for infrastructure projects like highways.”
“Every avenue open to us to make our voice heard, we took,” said NSSGA’s Sr. Vice President Pam Whitted. “In addition to submitting detailed comments on the rule, NSSGA members and staff met multiple times with EPA officials, the White House and countless members of both the House and Senate to make it clear that the aggregates industry opposed this radical expansion of EPA authority.”
For example, existing EPA guidance clearly excludes dry streams from the agency’s purview. Because these typically dry land features are pervasive on the landscape, particularly in the arid southwest, deeming them waters of the U.S. unnecessarily increases federal jurisdiction over them. The rule also allows for jurisdiction over many ditches, which goes far beyond congressional and court limits.
“What this rule really does is allow federal control over vast areas of land that can stop or delay vital projects needed to provide for our infrastructure,” Johnson added.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) issued the following statement on the rule:
“The administration’s decree to unilaterally expand federal authority is a raw and tyrannical power grab that will crush jobs. House members of both parties have joined more than 30 governors and government leaders to reject EPA’s disastrous WOTUS rule. These leaders know firsthand that the rule is being shoved down the throats of hardworking people with no input, and places landowners, small businesses, farmers, and manufacturers on the road to a regulatory and economic hell.”
The Portland Cement Association (PCA) released the following statement regarding the complaint the association filed against EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, challenging the expansion of federal authority. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, the State Chamber of Oklahoma, and Tulsa Regional Chamber.
“Through WOTUS, federal regulators are asserting unprecedented regulatory authority over large and small bodies of water throughout the U.S., exceeding the scope that was set by Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court,” said James G. Toscas, PCA president and CEO. ‘This will create needless gridlock, delays, and cost for construction projects across the country, with little or no benefit to the environment.
“Cement manufacturers take environmental responsibility very seriously,” Toscas said. “Every cement plant in the United States complies with every existing state and federal water quality standard. WOTUS, however, includes an arbitrary, case-by-case determination as to what rules apply where, which would make compliance more difficult. We therefore stand with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, the State Chamber of Oklahoma and the Tulsa Regional Chamber, and call for a stop to this extraordinary and unnecessary expansion of federal authority.”