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Bloomberg BNA: Committee Claims EPA Failed to Analyze Water Rule's Impact on Small Businesses

Bloomberg BNA: Committee Claims EPA Failed to Analyze Water Rule's Impact on Small Businesses 
By Amena H. Saiyid
May 27, 2014

The House Small Business Committee wrote May 23 to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, urging them to withdraw the joint proposed waters of the U.S. rule, saying it failed to include an analysis of the impacts on small businesses.

“We believe the agencies should withdraw the rule and conduct the required small business outreach and analysis before proceeding with the rulemaking,” wrote Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) in the letter. A copy of the letter also was sent to Howard Shelanski, administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and Winslow Sargent, chief advocacy counsel for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The letter, which was signed by the committee's Republican members, said the Regulatory Flexibility Act requires the federal government to conduct small business advocacy review panels to get input before proposing a rule. Furthermore, the RFA requires all agencies to assess the economic impacts of their rules on small businesses.

The lawmakers said the agencies failed to provide any certified explanation, as required by the RFA, to declare that small businesses would be unaffected by the rule. They said the proposed rule would cause farmers, ranchers, home builders, transporters and construction companies to incur significant costs in hiring environmental consultants and attorneys to obtain permits, which can be a time-consuming and costly enterprise.

The jointly proposed rule would bring under federal jurisdiction all tributaries of streams, lakes, ponds and impoundments, as well as wetlands that affect the chemical, physical and biological integrity of larger, navigable downstream waters. The agencies plan to accept comment on the rule until July 21 (79 Fed. Reg. 2,218; 100 DER A-36, 5/23/14).

The House Small Business Committee is holding a hearing May 29 to examine the impacts of the proposed rule. Representatives of the home builders, sand and gravel, and cattlemen groups are expected to testify.