The House approved the rule for H.R. 2018, the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act, by a 250-171 vote. Every Republican voted for the rule, along with 12 Democrats. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, says the Environmental Protection Agency has evolved into an agency that ignores the system of "cooperative federalism" that was originally intended in the Clean Water Act and undermines state governments and local companies with arbitrary rules that continue to hurt economic growth in the U.S.
"The EPA's actions have pulled the rug out from under the states in a very capricious, in an extremely arrogant manner, have created an atmosphere of regulatory uncertainty for businesses, for local governments, which now have to plan and rely on clean water permits as they think they might be used in the future," Bishop said. "This new uncertainty has nothing less than an extremely negative impact on businesses both large and small."
Under the bill, EPA cannot supersede a state's determination that a discharge into the environment will comply with applicable environmental standards. If the EPA has approved a state program under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, the EPA cannot withdraw this approval simply because it and the state disagree.
National Cattlemen's Beef Association Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley Lyon says the legislation would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from overruling state decisions on water quality, such as the situation in Florida, where EPA after approving a state water quality standard disregarded its own ruling in putting more stringent regulations in place.
H.R. 2018 was sponsored by Representatives John Mica, R-Fla., and Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., as a way to restore cooperation between the federal government and the states.
"The action that we've seen from EPA has unleashed an unprecedented backlash," said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Mica. "Everyone has called this a huge power grab by EPA and EPA has indeed created a regulatory nightmare that affects almost every state in the union."