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SBA Calls for Withdrawal of Water Rule

CQ Roll Call: CMS: SBA Calls for Withdrawal of Water Rule
October 1, 2014
By Philip Brasher

The Small Business Administration said Wednesday that it is “extremely concerned” about the potential economic impact of a proposed Clean Water Act rule and called on the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw it.

In a letter to those agencies, the SBA’s Office of Advocacy says they improperly analyzed the rule’s impact on agriculture, utilities and other sectors. Contrary to the language in the proposed rule, it would have “direct, significant impacts” on small businesses, the nine-page letter says.

The letter also says the EPA should convene a review panel to consider the rule’s impact on small businesses before proposing a revised version. The rule, issued this spring, would define the tributaries, wetlands and other bodies of water regulated by the law (PL 95-217).

The EPA and corps improperly certified that the rule would not have a significant economic impact on small businesses, in part because the agencies incorrectly compared the rule’s jurisdiction with a previous rule issued in 1986, according to the SBA. The proposed rule should have instead been analyzed in comparison to current practice, the letter says. According to the economic analysis that accompanied the rule, it would increase the area regulated under current practice by 3 percent.

“The 1986 regulation does not represent the current method for determining jurisdiction and has not served that purpose for more than 13 years. Using an obsolete baseline improperly diminishes the effects of this rule,” the letter says.

The letter also argues that the economic analysis cited in the rule itself contradicts the conclusion that the impact on businesses wouldn’t be direct or significant.

The letter echoes many complaints directed at the Obama administration during an intense lobbying campaign by farm groups, developers, mining companies and other interests.

The SBA also posted a fact sheet summarizing its comments.

Earlier this week, the EPA’s 52-member scientific advisory board approved a four-page letter that generally supports the rule but suggests it should be written more broadly in some ways.