Kristina Baum– 202.224.6176
Donelle Harder– 202.224.4721

Inhofe Raises New Questions About EPA, Army Corps’ final Waters of the United States Rule

 WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today sent letters to Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, and Ken Kopocis, deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requesting the agencies to explain both the justification for and the scope of the final “waters of the United States” rule published on June 29, 2015. In the letters, Inhofe specifically requests justification for expanded federal control of so-called “ navigable waters' based on birds ingesting and then excreting seeds or insects. 

“To support the extreme expansion of federal jurisdiction claimed by the final rule, EPA and the Corps of Engineers refer to 'scientific studies' and 'experience and expertise.' However, after reviewing the docket for the rule, my staff cannot find evidence of impacts to navigable waters from the ephemeral and isolated waters that EPA and the Corps now claim to control,” said Inhofe.  "Instead, we found documents that make it clear that the final rule is even broader than the agencies admit.  It appears that not only are the agencies claiming jurisdiction based on seepage into groundwater, but they are even claiming that seeds or insects ingested by birds in one location and excreted in another is evidence of 'biological connectivity' that justifies federal control. EPA has said that the geographic scope of the final rule can reach the 'vast majority of the nation’s water features' and by relying on groundwater or bird droppings, EPA and the Corps could control all of them. To understand both the rationale behind the final rule, and its scope, I asked EPA and the Corps to provide the documents they relied on to develop this rule."

Full text of the letters, click here and here.