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Clean Water Act expansion not right answer, builders say

Group warns that measure will 'delay or impede construction projects'

The Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to expand the reach of the Clean Water Act will increase the cost of new homes without a corresponding benefit to America's lakes, rivers and other water bodies, the National Association of Home Builders said this week.

While NAHB has long asked for the rules, EPA's proposal goes too far, the builders' group said.

"EPA was told to make changes to the rule so that everyone understands exactly when a builder needs a federal wetlands permit before turning the first shovel of dirt," said Kevin Kelly, NAHB president and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

"Instead, EPA has added just about everything into its jurisdiction by expanding the definition of a 'tributary', even ditches and man-made canals, or any other feature that a regulator determines to have a bed, bank and high-water mark," Kelly added. "It's a waste of taxpayer resources to treat a rainwater ditch with the same scrutiny as we would the Delaware Bay."

According to the NAHB, expanding federal authority under the Clean Water Act would greatly increase the number of construction sites required to obtain appropriate permits, which will also result in the delay or impede construction projects.

Moreover, additional permits will burden the current exorbitant backlog of permits ranging between 15,000 to 20,000, NAHB said.

Enacted in 1987, the Clean Water Act continues to be a source of confusion for both regulators and those subject to regulation, and just what land should fall under federal, as opposed to state or local, permitting authority, Kelly explained. It was originally designed to provide federal protection to navigable waters and those used for interstate commerce, but the limits of that protection were never clear.

Kelley said that the new definition doesn't just affect home builders. Farmers and ranchers could also feel an impact on their business practices. Even home owners could need wetlands permits before doing landscaping projects if regulators determined that their land included a 'tributary' and thus subject to federal oversight.

"It's clear to us that this new proposal is not at all what Congress intended when it told EPA to clarify its jurisdictional reach," Kelly said.

"The agency needs to go back to work on this," he added. "We need to protect the environment with a carefully crafted rule, not this hurried, catch-all attempt. Adding this layer of regulation makes the land development process more expensive and time consuming. That's bad news for home buyers and for the economy."

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Enviro Nazis
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2014 at 9:05 am

Folks, in the next Presidential election, please vote for a candidate that pledges to shut down the EPA. The EPA has become a hugely bloated bureaucracy of environmental Nazi and left-wing-loon thugs. Nobody elected any of these enviro Nazis, and they are running roughshod over citizens much like Hitler's Nazis.

One of the EPA's latest gangster acts is go after some family in Wyoming because the put in a pond on their property. They got ALL the permits needed, and met all regulations of their county and the state of Wyoming. But the enviro Nazis (er, EPA) didn't like it so they are going to fine this family $70,000 a DAY until they remove the pond.
This is not an exceptional occurrence -- it is an example of what the EPA is now doing routinely.

You think that was an "exceptional" occurrence? Not even close! The EPA has also come up with some absolutely ridiculous excuse to seize about 1/5th of the State of Wyoming and turn it over to an Indian tribe -- to rectify "environmental concerns".

Evidently Obama and the loons have it in for Wyoming because it is a conservative state, so they are on a rape, pillage and burn campaign against Wyoming.

Like I said, its time to get rid of the EPA. Also time to not elect another Hitler emulator to the White House.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rick Nobles
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 26, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Real balanced reporting. Couldn't find the phone number for the EPA? Or the Environmental Defense Fund? Or anyone with a different perspective than developers?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PW Readers Husband
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 27, 2014 at 12:05 am

Hmmm, a man-made storage pond overfills from rain and pollutes a tributary and a small lake fed by the tributary - killing fish and the local fishing business, and then the jobs that depend on the local fishing business; the poison invades the river and though diluted, people are warned not to use tap water for drinking, eating or showering, so tourist and convention business goes away, and more jobs; wild-life doesn't get the message and dies; affecting the hunting businesses, and their jobs; without jobs, people stop buying houses and the real estate industry 'dries up' (where do think the term came from?) If you don't realize and handle water as a precious resource, (insult withheld.) Native Americans lived on this continent for over 1000 years. When 'white men' arrived, the water was unpolluted. Lake Tahoe was clear enough to down over 100 feet. It's now 30% mud (meaning clarity is less than 70 feet), and our water must be heavily cleansed for use. I don't always agree with the EPA, but what needs to stop is the rape, pillage and burn campaign against the environment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by RWN
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 27, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Good comments PW Reader, but hard to convince the Right wing nuts that we need strong regulations. The group of home builders want no regulations… no limits on water…. just build build….


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Liberalism is a Plague
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Yeah right. Unable to defend the Enviro-Nazis, the left wing loons resort to name calling and threats of more State regulations against free Americans. Building and more building is what made this country great. Building made possible Al Blowhard Gore's digs down in Florida. Don't here the EPA going after him. Maybe it's because he invented the internet - ha ha.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PW Readers Husband
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 27, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Name-calling? The post by Enviro Nazis used the phrase "environmental Nazi and left-wing-loon thugs" for the people who strive to balance growth with leaving this nation's children drinkable water. Then there are allusions in the post of the EPA being "Hitler's Nazis" and "gangster[s]." I suspect the duck species named Loons (which have a wonderful call to hear in the morning over the lake) would, if they understood such rants, resent the disparagement of their name. The proper name-calling term for a rape, pillage and burn campaign against the environment is lunatic.


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