McConnell Says Senate Will Target EPA Proposed Waters of U.S. Regulation

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By Anthony Adragna

Jan. 5 — New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised to go after a proposed Clean Water Act jurisdiction rule this year, including it in an ever-expanding list of rulemakings Republicans plan to stop or impede.

At issue is a joint proposed rule from the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers that would clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act's jurisdiction over the nation's waters and wetlands. Republicans and some Democrats have called the proposal a radical expansion of the agency's authority and warned it could cripple agricultural, ranching and other industries.

“[President Barack Obama's administration is] also after agriculture through what they call the waters of the U.S. regulation,” McConnell said in an interview with CNN that aired Jan. 4. “We need to do everything we can to try to rein in the regulatory onslaught.”

McConnell has previously vowed to have the Senate halt other EPA regulatory efforts, but identified proposed carbon pollution standards for power plants and revisions to the national ozone standard as his priorities. Now, he joins other senior Republicans in naming the waters of the U.S. rule as a high priority target.

Previously, the new Senate leader has voiced strong disapproval of the Clean Water Act regulation. In July, after meeting with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, McConnell said the proposed rule would “essentially regulate every ditch and pothole in our state” and warned it would have a “devastating impact” on jobs and the local economy.

Shortly after the Nov. 4 elections, in which Republicans seized control of the Senate with 54 seats, McConnell said his top priority as majority leader would be to “try to do whatever I can to get the EPA reined in”.

McConnell again said in the interview with CNN that the Senate would try to “do everything we can to push back against this overactive bureaucracy of the current administration that's created much job loss, for example, in my state, in the mining industry, coal mining industry.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Adragna in Washington at aadragna@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com