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House passes water quality act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act (H.R. 2018) July 13 by a vote of 239 to 184. National Cattlemen's Beef Association Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley Lyon said the legislation would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from overruling state decisions on water quality. Lyon said under the Clean Water Act, states have primary responsibility for protecting waterways after EPA signs off on their plans. Unfortunately, according to Lyon, EPA approves a state's plan for protecting U.S. waters and then reverses its decision by proposing "burdensome and scientifically unfounded regulations." The best example is in Florida where EPA approved the state's plan and then unilaterally proposed federal standards, preempting the state's right to develop its own scientifically-based water quality criteria.

H.R. 2018 was sponsored by Reps. John Mica (R-FL) and Nick Rahall (D-WV) as a way to restore cooperation between the federal government and the states. Lyon said this legislation would stop EPA from running "roughshod" over states' science-based policies. She said EPA's actions would likely result is lost jobs and economic hardship in many states that are already struggling. As a result of an amendment offered by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), which passed 268 to 152, the legislation would also require EPA to consider the impact of its decisions on jobs and economic activity.

"EPA proposes regulation after regulation with little consideration of the impact these regulations have on jobs in the United States. EPA admits that the impact on jobs is not analyzed before proposing regulations," said Lyon. "This is unacceptable and we commend the 239 policymakers for standing up for U.S. agriculture, rural America and the entire U.S. economy. This legislation would uphold the foundation of the Clean Water Act by restoring the partnership between states and the federal government."

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