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Public Statements

Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. EMERSON. Mr. Chair, I have to rise in strong opposition to my friend's amendment.

Today, the EPA and the Corps of Engineers are writing guidance in order to dramatically expand the reach of the Clean Water Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. The EPA and Corps' understanding of waters of the United States would grow to encompass--in my rural district and a lot of rural districts all over this country--dry ditches, culverts, and--who knows--swimming pools and snow, as well.

This guidance is called ``Identification of Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act,'' and it's clear that the draft guidance, which has already been published, says it is not a rule and it is not binding. But let me tell you what's happened in my congressional district. Number one, this guidance is actually causing already the Corps of Engineers to fine a couple of people in my congressional district who supposedly have dry ditches on their property, and they are about 10 different streams removed from the Mississippi River, perhaps. Only when it rains does it stay wet for a day. These people are being told that they're going to have to pay hefty fines unless they stop the development of this particular area on their land. This is absolutely the craziest thing I've ever heard. Nobody is talking about impacting your clean water. This is out in the country. This is in rural areas. This is where there hasn't been a stream running in 100 years. Why that would be called a navigable water is beyond me.

The language included in the underlying bill is just simply going to stop the Corps, along with the EPA, from expanding their regulatory reach. And as I said, it's going to drastically be expanded to include culverts, dry ditches, and the rain falling on our fields. God knows there's going to be a mud puddle there, and it's suddenly going to become a navigable water because you might be able to put somebody with an inner tube in there in the puddle in the yard to be able to swim until it dries up.

Come on. Let's use sound science. Let's use some common sense. Let's follow proper rulemaking. The last thing we need to do is to continue to increase the power of the Federal Government. And this amendment under consideration--and I love my colleagues who are offering it--would further empower the regulatory

agencies, and it would endanger more than anything else our private property rights.

Mr. Chair, I urge my colleagues to support private property rights and join me in demanding transparency and accountability of our regulatory agencies. I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' to defeat this amendment.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.


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