Kristina Baum – 202.224.6176

Donelle Harder – 202.224.4721

Inhofe Uncovers Even More Extreme Provisions in the New “Waters of the United States” Regulation That Are Harmful To Cities, Counties

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), today sent a letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, and Ken Kopocis, deputy assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water, asking them to address the application of the new “waters of the United States” definition to city sewer systems, using Washington, D.C. as an example.

“It has recently been brought to my attention that under your new rule, the Army and EPA are claiming the authority to regulate not only current streams and wetlands, but land where streams and wetlands may have existed long before the enactment of the Clean Water Act,” wrote Inhofe. “If you had adequately consulted with local governments before developing this rule, you would have known that many years ago it was common practice to construct city sewer and stormwater systems in existing streams.  Under your radical expansion of federal regulatory authority, these sewer and stormwater systems could now be regulated as waters of the United States, precluding their use to protect the public health and welfare of city residents.”

EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers published a final rule changing the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) on June 29, 2015.  Under this new rule, the agencies intend to use historical maps and historic aerial photographs to identify the former locations of water features like streams.  Many city sewer systems are located in former streams, as is evident from historic maps of Washington, D.C.

To read full text of the letter, click here.