WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Republicans on Tuesday voted to block government rules that would clarify which streams, tributaries and wetlands should be protected from pollution and development under the Clean Water Act.
The rules proposed last year by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have fueled political anger in the country's heartland, becoming a top issue of concern for many farmers and landowners who say there are already too many government regulations affecting their businesses.
The House bill, approved 261-155, would force the EPA to withdraw the rules and further consult with state and local officials before rewriting it. The White House has threatened to veto the legislation.
The EPA says its water rules simply clarify – and don't expand – what smaller bodies of water are regulated under the Clean Water Act. Administrator Gina McCarthy says one out of three Americans gets their drinking water from sources that aren't clearly protected, and the rules would make sure those waters aren't polluted.
Republican Rep. Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he believes the proposed EPA and Army Corps rules are “purposely vague” and that they would expand the government's authority over these small bodies of water, despite what the agency says.