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House Bill on ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Would Protect Environment, Help Small Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 16, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today applauded legislation introduced by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) from increasing federal authority over intrastate waters that would harm individual landowners and home buyers and impede economic growth.

“Drastically expanding federal overreach over water and land use would greatly increase the number of construction sites required to obtain a federal Clean Water Act permit, leading to bureaucratic delays and higher costs for new homes,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo. “This bill would prevent that outcome by compelling the EPA and Corps to offer a new plan to safeguard America’s waterways only after they engage in the proper rulemaking process.”

H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act , would require the EPA and Corps to withdraw their proposed rule that would dramatically enlarge the definition of “waters of the United States” to include almost any water body, such as ditches, mudflats, prairie potholes and other water features.

To meet the regulatory requirements that ensure a fair and balanced rule, the bill would also oblige the agencies to develop a new proposal in consultation with state and local governments, as well as other affected stakeholders including the small business community, and stipulate that such a plan is based on sound economic and scientific analysis.

The agencies failed to adequately consult with state and local governments before originally unveiling the proposal last year. Consequently, more than 33 states have formally requested that the proposed rule be withdrawn. These states have expressed concerns that the rulemaking proposal dismisses the role of state and local governments as co-regulators, as intended by Congress when the Clean Water Act was drafted.

Moreover, the agencies never assessed how the proposed rule would impact small business stakeholders, as required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and failed to provide an accurate and statistically valid cost-benefit analysis to accompany the proposal.

“As the home building industry is dominated by family-owned small businesses, we are frustrated that the burdens this proposed rule places on small businesses were never considered,” said Woods. “This bill is essential to ensure that the housing recovery is not further impeded.”