State files official comments on proposed Waters of the U.S. rule change
Topeka— Kansas Governor Sam Brownback announced this morning that the State of Kansas would file formal comments with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding proposed regulations clarifying which bodies of water are covered under the Clean Water Act.
Governor Brownback, along with Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey, Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Bob Moser, and stakeholders expressed concerns that the draft regulation would greatly expand the EPA’s regulatory power, significantly impacting the state’s agriculture and energy industries. A letter urging retraction of the rule was signed by the Governor and five of his Cabinet secretaries and sent to the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers today.
“This unlawful and unconstitutional attempt to assert federal jurisdiction over local water and land use would make it impossible for farmers, developers and homeowners to know when they can carry on routine activities without obtaining an extremely expensive federal permit,” said Governor Brownback. “Kansans have had enough of this kind of federal overreach. My administration will continue to fight back against this continued pattern of disregard for business, industry, and farm and ranch families.”
The Governor and state officials noted that Kansas already has adequate laws in place to protect waters that fall under state jurisdiction, making the proposed federal regulation a redundant and costly infringement on the state’s rights without providing any significant benefits.
Officials also noted that the EPA and the Corps have issued no expected timeline for the rule change to take effect and that the federal agencies have made no attempt to coordinate with the state on this issue.
Representatives from more than one dozen energy and agriculture-related industries and organizations also were present to express their concerns about the proposed rule.
“This draft rule change includes new and poorly defined terms based on ambiguous and untested theories,” said Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association President Edward P. Cross. “The result is a proposal that attempts to usurp authority that belongs to the states. We strongly support and appreciate Governor Brownback’s leadership in urging the EPA and the Corps to withdraw this proposed regulation.”
The comment period for the draft rule change ends on Nov. 14, 2014.