by Dan Coats
Ben Franklin famously noted that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. Unfortunately, under the Obama Administration, excessive overregulation has become a third certainty.
Since President Obama took office, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) repeatedly has attempted to increase its power and control through overregulation, all to suit the administration’s larger ideological agenda. As a result, the Indiana energy and manufacturing sectors have endured various EPA attacks over the past several years.
The latest example of this overreach is a rule recently finalized by the EPA defining the Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The expansive WOTUS rule sets out the agency’s interpretation of which bodies of waters are “navigable” and therefore subject to federal regulation. The EPA’s sweeping interpretation covers water bodies, wetlands, small ponds and even ditches, including those that may run with water during the occasional Indiana rainstorm.
This rule could limit the ability of Hoosier farmers to use their private land productively and Hoosier businesses to develop private property. It will add burdensome red tape and cause serious harms to businesses, utilities, farmers, developers, builders and land owners across Indiana.
Hoosier landowners will be faced with new permitting requirements and liability risks. By the EPA’s own admission, the rule will increase the number of permits required for developers and landowners who want to make decisions regarding their own property. Further, by the EPA’s own estimate, the cost of the rule will range from $158 million to $465 million per year. These new financial and time burdens will make it harder for Hoosier manufacturers and business owners to expand their businesses.
It is clear this rule goes beyond reasonable environmental protection. Instead, it calls into question property rights and personal freedom, all while heaping new costs on millions of Americans.
Even worse, the EPA is moving forward with this misguided rule after receiving over one million comments, most of which urged a different approach. Thirty-four states, including Indiana, oppose this rule and have asked for it to be withdrawn or changed. Opposition to this rule is not limited to a small minority, but rather a concerned majority. Despite this clear opposition, the EPA has moved to enshrine its broad overreach into law.
Maintaining clean water, air and lands are important missions for government at every level. Yet these missions do not exist in a vacuum and must be achieved while balancing the compelling needs of individual freedoms, a growing economy, abundant jobs, public health and ecological integrity.
I have joined 40 of my colleagues in supporting legislation to stop the WOTUS rule and make clear what EPA can and cannot regulate as “waters of the United States.”
Our legislation makes it clear that Congress will not let unelected bureaucrats expand their jurisdiction well beyond the authority Congress has granted them. It is vitally important that Congress halts the regulatory flood pouring out of Washington.
It is time for the EPA to sit down and Congress to stand up and take back its authority by stopping this misguided WOTUS rule.
Sen. Dan Coats is a Republican U.S. Senator from Indiana.