Federal Regulation of Waters: Impacts of Administration Overreach on Local Economies and Job Creation
This is a hearing of the Full Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Blair County Convention Center
Official Hearing Transcript
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Hearing on “Federal Regulation of Waters: Impacts of Administration Overreach on Local Economies and Job Creation”
April 28, 2014
(Remarks as Prepared)
Today we are going to explore the impact of executive actions that the Administration is taking to regulate the waters and restrict the development of important energy resources in Pennsylvania and elsewhere around the country.
Last week, the President published a proposed rule that will dramatically extend the reach of the federal government when it comes to regulating ponds, ditches, and other wet areas. This is another example of a disturbing pattern of an Imperial Presidency that seeks to circumvent Congress.
Unilaterally broadening the scope of the Clean Water Act and the federal government’s reach into our everyday lives will have adverse effects on the economy and jobs, increase the likelihood of costly litigation, and restrict the rights landowners and local governments enjoy regarding decision-making on their own lands.
This federal jurisdiction grab was the subject of failed legislation in the 110th and 111th Congresses. Strong bipartisan opposition prevented those bills from moving forward. Defeated in Congress, now the Obama Administration is trying to achieve this power expansion through a rulemaking.
This proposed rule supposedly aims to “clarify” which waterbodies are subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. But I am extremely concerned that there are serious flaws with this process. Twice, the Supreme Court has told the agencies that there are limits to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, and that they had gone too far in asserting their authority. It is the responsibility of Congress, and not the Administration, to define the scope of jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.
Similarly, the Administration is taking steps to restrict the development of important energy resources in Pennsylvania.
The Administration is utilizing the wetlands permitting process under the Clean Water Act to throw obstacles in the way of developing and transporting to market, through gathering lines, natural gas produced in the Marcellus Shale region.
Since 2011, when the Army Corps of Engineers issued Pennsylvania State Programmatic General Permit 4, we have heard concerns from industry and the DEP regarding several key changes that have increased the permit review time for natural gas gathering lines, delaying the delivery of gas from the well to the marketplace and delaying royalty payments to property owners and revenues to the state.
I have met with and worked with industry, DEP, and the Corps over the past three years to attempt to address these concerns. While I’m told the timeline has improved somewhat, the underlying changes that caused these problems in the first place have not been addressed.
Regulation of the nation’s waters must be done in a manner that responsibly protects the environment –without an unnecessary and costly expansion of the federal government. We can continue to protect our waters without unreasonable and burdensome regulations on our businesses, farmers, and families.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about their experiences and thoughts on both issues and thoughts for improvements in the next general permit issuance in 2015.
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