Senate panel to challenge water rule, endangered species enforcement

By Philip Brasher

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Jan. 7, 2015 - The new chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is pledging to take on the Obama administration over the proposed Clean Water Act rule and its enforcement of the Endangered Species Act.

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Sen. Jim Inhofe also promises to attack the administration's climate policy, but his list of committee priorities makes no mention of the Renewable Fuel Standard, although he is a long-time critic of the biofuel mandates.

The Oklahoma Republican said the committee's first move this year will be to approve a surface transportation reauthorization bill.

"The two years ahead of us will be active and ambitious,” Inhofe said, “as we seek to champion fiscally responsible policies as well as adhere to guiding principles from the Constitution to serve the betterment of the American people and our economy.”

The committee chairman's agenda includes a promise to conduct “rigorous oversight of EPA regulations,” including the proposed rule defining the waters of the United States” (WOTUS) that are regulated under the Clean Water Act. Killing the rule is a high priority for many farm groups, mining companies and development interests.

The agenda also calls for “needed oversight” of the Endangered Species Act “to restore local control of conservation efforts” and to curb use of lawsuits to force listings.

“ESA, as it stands, disincentivizes states and local communities from setting their own goals to meet or even exceed ESA standards,” according to a committee statement. “Resources are also being depleted responding to lawsuit after lawsuit from radical environmental groups rather than being used for important conservation on species that are a high priority for protection.”

House Republicans also are looking to move legislation to overhaul the law. 

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