March 25, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today called for a careful review of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed rule protecting streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.
“While I certainly agree that the federal regulatory process needs greater efficiency and certainty, it appears unlikely that this new rule will help meet either of those goals,” Murkowski said. “Instead, it appears that the EPA is seeking to dramatically expand its jurisdictional reach under the Clean Water Act. If allowed to stand this could result in serious collateral damage to our economy, for a wide range of states, and for a wide range of individuals – including our nation’s sportsmen.”
The proposed rule attempts to clarify Clean Water Act protection for streams and wetlands by specifying that most seasonal and rain-dependent streams are protected, as are wetlands near rivers and streams. Other types of waterways with more uncertain connections with downstream waters would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
“EPA says it intends to undertake a 90-day outreach effort ‘around the country’ to gather input about its proposed rule,” Murkowski said. “Noting that, I hereby call on the agency to schedule public meetings with state officials, property owners, sportsmen, and resource producers in Alaska, which stands to be disproportionately impacted due to our prevalence of wetlands. If EPA is not careful, this rule could effectively give the federal government control of nearly all of our state – and prove to be a showstopper for both traditional access and new development.
“We already have significant disagreement in Alaska about the extent to which the Clean Water Act applies to us, stemming from states having control over non-navigable waters. This latest proposal will only add to the questions and concerns raised by a wide range of Alaskans.
“I also question the timing of this proposed rule. The agency’s scientific review panel hasn’t even finished reviewing it. EPA should not be pushing the public to comment until that process is finished. EPA is once again putting the cart before the horse in an effort to greatly expand federal control – this time, in an expansion that will be devastating for Alaskans.”
Murkowski is the senior senator for Alaska and the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.