NAHB Opposes Clean Water Act Expansion
The National Association of Home Builders says it opposes a proposal from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to broaden the scope of the federal Clean Water Act because it would make new houses more expensive without offering much of an environmental benefit.
In a news release, NAHB President Kevin Kelly said the EPA proposal would expand the definition of a “tributary” to include ditches, man-made canals, and other features that have a bed, bank, and high-water mark.
“It a waste of taxpayer resources to treat a rainwater ditch with the same scrutiny as we would the Delaware Bay,” he said.
NAHB said the new rule would mean that the number of construction projects required to obtain permits would greatly increase, adding to the current “exorbitant backlog of permits ranging from 15,000 to 20,000.”
“These places are where we get our drinking water, and where we hunt, fish, swim, and play,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said, according to the article.
The March 25 proposal is subject to a 90-day comment period to begin later in April.
Which bodies of water the Clean Water Act should cover has been a matter of debate for more than a decade, pitting farm and business interests against those who favor tougher protections for wetlands and streams that run only intermittently. While NAHB opposed the new rules, for example, Trout Unlimited wholeheartedly supported it.
Kelly said the revised rules would affect farmers and ranchers in addition to builders. Even homeowners might be required to get wetlands permits before starting landscaping projects, he said.
“It’s clear to us that this new proposal is not at all what Congress intended when it told EPA to clarify its jurisdictional reach,” Kelly said in a prepared statement. “The agency needs to go back to work on this. We need to protect the environment with a carefully crafted rule, not this hurried, catch-all attempt. Adding this layer of regulation makes the land-development process more expensive and time consuming. That’s bad news for homebuyers and for the economy.”