The EPA Eyes Water Overflows

Date: September 15, 2014

The EPA now wants to regulate your puddles. A proposed rule would expand the agency’s power over privately owned land.

Under the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency has become one of the most consistently expansive regulatory agencies in the federal government, especially regarding its authority over greenhouse-gas emissions.

Now the EPA is attempting a regulatory land grab through a proposed rule that would expand the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act over small businesses and private landowners. NFIB is fighting to stop it.

The agency wants to expand the definition of waters covered under the act to include as lands of the United States any piece of property that has water overflow at any point of the year. That includes seasonal streams, ponds, ditches, depressions in fields and even large puddles. The aggressive expansion of the EPA’s purview would prevent many landowners from excavating or filling in land without a permit gained through an extremely long process.

“Besides the power grab, there’s the issue of the real uncertainty whether the features of your land would make it be considered federal waters, and that can create huge difficulties if you want to sell it,” says Dan Bosch, NFIB’s manager of regulatory policy.

NFIB and allies already have succeeded in getting the EPA to extend its original period for public comment on the issue into November, giving business owners more time to lodge their concerns about the potential change.

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