Infrastructure builders group targets EPA's Waters of the U.S. Rule

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) added another angry voice on Wednesday to the chorus of industry interests decrying the Environmental Protection Agency's Waters of the U.S. Rule, which aims to protect key watersheds in the U.S. and outlines which rivers, streams, lakes and marshes fall under the jurisdiction of the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.

A statement from the EPA said the new rules will eliminate confusion about which local and federal agencies are in charge of regulations for different bodies of water and will make the permitting processes for industrial projects go forward more smoothly.

ARTBA, however, is angry about the new regulations, which the association said will make transportation-development projects more difficult.

“The EPA’s regulatory overreach aims to submarine congressional efforts enacted in 2012’s MAP-21 law that were aimed at speeding up the delivery of transportation projects,” ARTBA President Pete Ruane said.

Ruane said ARTBA will fight the new rules despite EPA assurances that the new rules won’t change any previous exemptions and will actually make permitting processes faster and more efficient. Ruane said ARTBA will explore possible litigation to block implementation of the new rule.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the new rule should eventually benefit U.S. businesses, while ensuring clean drinkable water is accessible to as many Americans as possible.

“Protecting our water sources is a critical component of adapting to climate-change impacts like drought, sea-level rise, stronger storms and warmer temperatures – which is why EPA and the Army have finalized the Clean Water Rule to protect these important waters, so we can strengthen our economy and provide certainty to American businesses,” McCarthy said.

Still, the Obama administration will have its hands full battling opponents in Congress, and ARTBA will throw all of its considerable political weight behind efforts to block the EPA’s new rule.

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