Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sen. Inhofe Predicts "Demise" Of Clean Water Restoration Act

Jun 18: U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, issued a release following an EPW business meeting which approved an amended version of the Clean Water Restoration Act (S. 787). Senator Inhofe said the bill "faces certain demise in the Senate." Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) also placed a "hold" on the bill immediately following the meeting.

Senator Inhofe said, “The superficial changes made to this bill don’t change its underlying intention and ultimate effect: to radically expand federal power over farms, ranches, and private property.We heard plenty of talk about a grand compromise to address concerns from rural America. Yet in the end, the revised bill, which passed on a party-line vote, still lacks support from a large swath of rural stakeholders. I am pleased to support Senator Crapo’s hold on the bill. On the very outside chance this bill ever actually reaches the Senate floor, I will work closely with Senator Crapo and others to defeat it and ensure that we protect private property owners, farmers, ranchers, and all those affected by the bill’s regulatory overreach.

“This bill is further proof that Washington doesn’t ’get’ rural America. The Democrats are moving a bill that amounts to the biggest bureaucratic power grab in a generation--and it’s directed right at America's heartland. In fact, this bill is a significant part of a hostile agenda—whether it’s new energy taxes from cap-and-trade or more unfunded mandates from Washington—aimed squarely at rural America.”

The bill is designed to clarify the Clean Water Act (CWA) in light of the Supreme Court decisions in the controversial decisions of, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. Army Corps of Engineers in 2001 and Rapanos v. United States in 2006. The bill would eliminate the "navigable" water definition and replace it with "waters of the United States."

The hearing included a response from the legal councils for the Democrats and Republicans regarding what water bodies would be covered and not covered by the bill. The original bill was introduced by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) [See WIMS 4/13/09] and the Committee added and approved the so-called Baucus, Klobuchar , Boxer amendment. Republicans argue that the bill represents a "major expansion" of the CWA scope. Democrats argue that the bill only represents a return to the way the law was interpreted before the two Supreme Court decisions.

Access a release from Senator Inhofe (
click here). Access an opening statement at the meeting from Senator Inhofe (click here). Access a webcast of the meeting (click here). Access legislative details for S. 787 (click here). Access the hearing website where additional information on the Committee action may be available (click here).