Ayotte Votes to Protect New Hampshire From Washington Overreach on Water Rule

NH stakeholders say expansion of water regulation would impose significant burdens

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 4, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Based on input from New Hampshire citizens and businesses, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte today announced her opposition to a final rule that would dramatically expand the federal government’s jurisdiction over U.S. waters. She voted in support of bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw and revise the final “Waters of the United States” rule to take into account concerns from states, communities, and other local stakeholders. The legislation failed by a 57-41 vote, falling short of the 60 votes required to advance.

“I have heard from farmers, home builders, small businesses, and property owners across our state who have serious concerns that this flawed and confusing rule is overly broad and would impose significant costs, legal uncertainty, and unnecessary compliance burdens on them,” said Ayotte. “Even the Small Business Administration has weighed in and called for the rule to be withdrawn and reevaluated because of its ‘direct, significant effects’ on small businesses. We can protect our clean water without this unnecessary federal overreach, which many are concerned would allow Washington to regulate ponds, ditches, and other non-navigable waters throughout New Hampshire and the nation.”

Senator Ayotte has previously voted in support of measures opposing the EPA’s rule, including an amendment to the 2016 budget resolution similar to the Barrasso bill and a 2013 amendment to the Water Resources Development Act.

On October 9, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted a nationwide stay on the EPA and Army Corps’ final rule, which previously went into effect on August 28, 2015.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT THE “WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES” RULE:

Associated General Contractors of New Hampshire, American Council of Engineering Companies of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association, New Hampshire Home Builders Association, New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation: “These five organizations believe that the redefinition of ‘waters of the U.S.’ will vastly expand federal jurisdiction over waters and negatively impact ordinary business activities, such as manufacturing, electric generation and transmission, mining operations, and road & building development. We believe this rule also adds ambiguity to the current law, opening the door for future litigation as we have seen in other parts of the country.”

New Hampshire Golf Course Superintendents Association: “The Clean Water Rule is a significant expansion of the Clean Water Act that will affect golf facilities in our state, as well as impact our State’s jurisdiction over waters. The rule could subject any pesticide or fertilizer application near water, including ditches, man-made lakes and golf course ponds, to costly CWA permitting and citizen lawsuit provisions. Such lawsuits could financially cripple our facilities and negatively impact the environmental goodwill built by our industry within our state whether such lawsuits are found to be factual or not.”

Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy: “Advocacy believes that EPA and the Corps have improperly certified the proposed rule under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) because it would have direct, significant effects on small businesses. Advocacy recommends that the agencies withdraw the rule and that the EPA conduct a Small Business Advocacy Review panel before proceeding any further with this rulemaking.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers failed to conduct any meaningful regulatory or economic impact analyses prior to issuing the final rule. EPA’s regulatory overreach harms American enterprise by creating a vague rule to be implemented within a technically complex, expensive and time-consuming permitting process that will cause unnecessary expense and delay, and force many of our members to walk away from valuable business ventures.”

National Association of Manufacturers: “The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ new definition of ‘waters of the United States’ was supposed to clarify what waters are controlled by federal regulations, but instead the rule makes it harder to know how to follow the law. Over the last 40 years, the Clean Water Act has protected the rivers and lakes we use for transportation and recreation. But the new rule now exerts power over a staggering range of man-made and isolated features – even if they are usually dry or too small to appear on a map. The definitions are complex and vague, and often require case-by-case determinations by the agencies.”

National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association: “The proposed rule may force small aggregates companies to delay or even drop plans to expand in areas where reserves are located. That could have a major ripple effect on the ability of these operators to meet the needs of their customers, potentially affecting many programs such as highways, home building, flood control and environmental restoration. Many of these operators provide materials for rural areas, thus affecting other small businesses such as farmers and ranchers.”

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