WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2014 -- President Obama’s senior advisers are recommending a veto should Congress approve a bill being pushed by House Republicans that would prohibit the EPA from implementing a proposed rule aimed at clarifying which waters of the U.S. are under its jurisdiction as part of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The rulemaking, by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, “is essential to ensure clean water for future generations and reduce regulatory uncertainty,” the White House said in a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP). “If the President were presented with (the bill, H.R. 5078), his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill,” the statement said.

The White House said the EPA’s proposed rule is “grounded in science” and responsive to calls from Congress, industry and community stakeholders as well as decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The statement was released late Monday after the House Rules Committee, in a party line vote, approved the parameters under which the H.R. 5078 will be debated by the full House. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy scheduled the debate for today. Republican lawmakers and agricultural organizations including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association say the EPA proposal is a vast government power grab that would impose overly burdensome and unneeded regulations on farmers, ranchers, miners and developers.

The bill, dubbed the “Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014,” would also require the EPA to consult with state and local officials for a regulatory proposal that would identify the scope of waters covered and not covered under CWA.

In the SAP, the White House noted that more than 115 million Americans get their drinking water from rivers, lakes and reservoirs that are at risk of pollution from upstream sources.

“When Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, to restore the nation’s waters, it recognized that to have healthy communities downstream, we need to protect the smaller streams and wetlands upstream. Clarifying the scope of the CWA helps to protect clean water, safeguard health, and strengthen the economy,” the White House said in the SAP.

The White House said the bill would deny businesses and communities the regulatory certainty needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water. Furthermore, according to the White House, it would delay any action to clarify the scope of the CWA for up to two years by requiring further consultations with state and local governments, “even though they were engaged and consulted during the development of the proposed rule.”

“In the end, H.R. 5078 would sow more confusion and invite more conflict at a time when our communities and businesses need clarity and certainty around clean water regulation. Simply put, this bill is not an act of good government; rather, it would hinder the ongoing rulemaking process and the agencies’ ability to respond to the public as well as two Supreme Court rulings.”


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