Full Committee Business Meeting

June 18, 2009 09:30 AM

406 Dirksen EPW Hearing Room

James M. Inhofe


Thank you Madame Chair.  Given that the Committee is considering several bills this morning and I know my colleagues are anxious to get started, I will limit my opening remarks to just one of the bills on the agenda.
That bill is S. 787, the Clean Water Restoration Act.  Before I explain what the bill does, I want to explain what it represents.  I see this bill as a significant part of a hostile agenda aimed squarely at rural America.  Whether it’s new energy taxes from cap-and-trade legislation or more unfunded environmental mandates, it’s clear that this bill is yet one more raw deal for rural America.
Allowing EPA and the Corps to exercise unlimited regulatory authority over all inter- and intrastate water, or virtually anything that is wet, goes too far and is certainly beyond anything intended by the Clean Water Act.  But, that is what S. 787 does.  It vastly expands Federal control of private property, despite assurances contained in S. 787.  In fact, the very premise of the bill is to override a State’s fundamental right to oversee waters within its borders and to usurp the power of land owners to manage their property as they see fit.  The Constitution never envisioned federal jurisdiction being boundless; it carves out room for state and local governments and private property owners to manage their resources.

Two of my Republican colleagues have filed amendments to S. 787, which highlight some very legitimate concerns with the bill.  I have chosen not to try and amend the bill because, frankly, I don’t think this bill is fixable.  Allow me to just briefly list some of the groups that have expressed concerns with this bill that are not covered by any the amendments filed today:  The Associated Builders and Contractors, the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, the American Forest and Paper Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of REALTORS, the American Highway Users Alliance, the American Association of Airport Executives, and the list goes on for about 14 pages.  I would ask unanimous consent that this entire list be entered into the record.

I apologize to anyone whose name I did not read; I simply wanted to demonstrate that the concerns with this bill touch every segment of our economy. 

I want to put my colleagues and the Chair on notice that, on the very outside chance this bill ever actually reaches the Senate floor, I will lead a very robust and orchestrated effort to make changes to the bill that will protect private property owners, farmers, ranchers, and all those affected by this bill from regulatory overreach.  I would also note that, based on the widespread opposition to this bill, there is no chance of it passing the Senate.

This bill is further proof that Washington doesn’t “get” rural America.  I understand the majority will offer some amendments to the bill to try to fix the problems this bill creates, but from what I’ve seen they are window-dressing that doesn’t change the basic outcome:  It is a dagger directed right at America’s heartland.  I look forward to our discussion and the opportunity to point out how every farmer, hunter, and private property owner in the nation will be affected by this bill, regardless of amendments.