On Nov. 13, Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) joined 375 industry trade associations and chambers from 50 states to voice strong concerns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ flawed proposed rule to dramatically expand the scope of federal authority over water and land uses across the country. The association called for the proposal to be withdrawn on both legal and business grounds.
“The administration’s efforts to redefine ‘waters of the United States’ have been a complete failure,” said Brian McGuire, AED’s president and CEO. “The EPA’s claim that it is reducing the total waters under its control is not just inaccurate, it is patently false. If the new definition moves forward, the EPA would reclassify ditches and other landscape features that occasionally carry water as tributaries to navigable waterways – as if a riverboat is going to plot a course through a puddle in your front yard. It would make the agency the nation’s chief land manager – able to regulate development, farming, mining and other activity in large swaths of the country.
“The EPA has repeatedly dismissed the concerns of small businesses, declaring that the dramatic expansion of the ‘waters’ definition will have no negative economic impact. This assessment cannot be correct. Increased regulation equals greater costs up and down the supply chain. As the suppliers of critical equipment for the construction, mining, farming and other heavy industries, our members understand that increased costs result in fewer projects, smaller revenue and a dismal outlook.”
The proposed expansion of EPA authority carries a variety of consequences for industry:
- • The rule would make most ditches into “tributaries.” Routine maintenance activities in ditches and on-site ponds and impoundments could trigger permits that can cost $100,000 or more.
- • These permitting requirements would likely trigger additional environmental reviews that would add years to project completion time and often require costly restoration/mitigation projects.
- • The proposal would likely also result in more stringent storm water management requirements, which would affect retailers, companies with large parking lots, “big box” stores, etc.
Beyond the negative business impacts of the proposed rule, AED’s comments highlight that in drafting it the agency failed to follow existing law on numerous counts. The result is bad for business, useless in service of the environment and ignorant of legislative, judicial and regulatory mandates. Not only is the proposal wrong, it is illegal.
Tags: Associated Equipment Distributors, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, home, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Waters