Rural cooperatives applaud House measure to repeal ‘waters of the U.S.’ rule

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) on Jan. 13 expressed appreciation for House passage of a resolution to overturn the controversial Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule issued last year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers.

Electric co-ops have expressed strong concern that the rule would dramatically expand federal regulation of waterways in a manner that would undermine their ability to build and maintain critical infrastructure. NRECA commended Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, for sponsoring the resolution (S.J. Res. 22) and House leadership for bringing the measure up for a vote.

“Electric cooperatives maintain more than 2.5 million miles of distribution power lines that cover 75 percent of our country’s landmass, including waterways,” said Debbie Wing, NRECA director of media relations. “As it now stands, WOTUS would create permitting requirements for so-called ‘waters’ never previously regulated, such as isolated ponds and places that only contain water after it rains.  Requiring permits for these newly-identified waters would increase the time, uncertainty and cost for building and maintaining our transmission and distribution infrastructure.”

The Senate passed S.J. Res. 22 last November. The WOTUS rule currently is subject to a nationwide stay by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sxith Circuit.

The Sierra Club said Jan. 13 that House Republicans have joined their Senate colleagues in launching another attack on clean water for by voting to kill the “waters” via a “Resolution of Disapproval” under the Congressional Review Act. While the resolution passed the Senate in November and the House on Jan. 13, President Barack Obama has vowed to veto it, making the entire exercise futile, the club added.

Dalal Aboulhosn, Senior Washington Representative for the Sierra Club, said: “Congressional Republicans knew from the get go that this extreme vote would be vetoed by the President because it threatens clean water – so it appears they are just trying to score points with their big polluter allies. This vote against the Clean Water Rule, especially as it comes just a day after the House voted against another Administrative rule to protect water, the Stream Protection Rule, shows an uncommon level of reckless disregard for the health of American families.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.