Lawmaker favors innovation over litigation in legislation addressing clean water

By   /   July 23, 2013  /   No Comments

As an alternative to the “command and control” directives that flow from Washington D.C., Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) favors a federalized approach toward enforcement of 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA) that would allow for greater flexibility and autonomy at the local level.

To this end, he has introduced the Clean Water Compliance and Ratepayer Affordability Act of 2013 (H.R. 2707), which would empower local communities with the ability to pursue innovative and cost-effective compliance procedures.

Rep. Chabot favors more autonomy for localities to enforce CWA rules

Rep. Chabot favors more autonomy for localities to enforce CWA rules

Chabot’s bill creates a pilot program involving 15 communities throughout the country that would work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to shape new compliance programs. Instead of observing costly mandates that actually delay environmental remediation, local communities could pursue less expensive clean-up methods that match up with their particular needs, Chabot told Watchdog.org in an interview.

Under the current regulatory regime, localities are often forced to comply with expensive mandates compliments of the EPA, he explained. Chabot also expressed concern that the mandates, which are often ordered by a federal court decree, do not adequately take into account the severe economic impact mandates have on communities. The “massive, and often-outdated, one-size-fits-all solutions,” that are forced upon localities are not good for the environment or the economy, he added.  

“There’s a better way,” Chabot said. “Instead of having the money go toward legal fees, we could direct it toward actual clean-up efforts. That’s the advantage of having an approach that gives communities a little more flexibility. We could have our limited resources go toward improving the environment instead of it being used for legal fees and court costs. A lot of the money just gets eaten up now with bureaucrats fighting each other. That’s no good.”

Chabot’s legislation dovetails with a new report from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Assault on State Sovereignty.” The report documents “EPA power grabs,” which have increased dramatically in just the past few years. William Yeatman, an assistant director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) who authored the report, says the EPA has largely usurped what should be state functions.

Kevin Mooney can be reached at Kmooney@watchdog.org and followed on Twitter @KevinMooneyDC

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