A Long Star State business alliance is accusing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of seeking to control “every pond, puddle and ditch in Texas.”
The Texas affiliate of the National Federation of Independent Business blasted the EPA’s proposed “Waters of the United States” as bureaucratic overreach.
“There could be almost no end to the federal red tape, fines and fees,” said NFIB/Texas Executive Director Will Newton.
EPA officials call their plan a logical extension of the Clean Water Act, noting that 117 million Americans get their drinking water from streams not currently regulated by the federal law.
But states are fighting back. Watchdog.org reported this month that all 21 Republican senators in Virginia signed a letter of opposition to the EPA plan.
In Texas, NFIB said:
The state Department of Environmental Quality already has significant power to regulate water in our state. This new waters of the U.S. rule would be confusing and expensive for small businesses when they try expand operations on their land.
The EPA angered Texans when the agency rebuffed requests for a sitdown to discuss the new rule that would extend beyond “navigable waters.”
“We asked them to meet with our small-business owners so [EPA] understands our situation,” NFIB spokeswoman Sarah Tober told Watchdog. Tober said NFIB’s 24,000 members were particularly concerned the federal agency did not conduct an economic impact study.
Under the Clean Water Act, the average cost of a permit is $270,000. Violations can draw fines of up to $37,500 a day.
“Expansion of EPA’s already broad regulatory reach into seasonal streams, farm ponds and ditches does not necessarily mean better environmental practices. But it does mean more compliance cost for our already over-regulated small farmers and ranchers,” Tober said.
Read more by Kenric Ward at Watchdog.com.