The Office of Management and Budget is advising President Obama to veto a Republican bill on the Senate floor Tuesday that would make it harder for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to revise the definitions of "waters of the United States" and "navigable waters."
The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., would force the EPA and Army to rewrite guidance the agencies have issued regarding the Clean Water Act's jurisdiction.
Last month, an appellate court issued a stay of the rule.
"The agencies' rulemaking, grounded in science and the law, is essential to ensure clean water for future generations, and is responsive to calls for rulemaking from the Congress, industry and community stakeholders, as well as decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court," OMB wrote in a statement of administration policy issued Tuesday. "The final rule has been through an extensive public engagement process."
The bill has 46 co-sponsors, including three Democrats.
The Congressional Research Service's summary of the bill, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, notes it would not limit EPA's authority to require permits for pollutant discharges into navigable water under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and take enforcement action. Nor would it limit states' jurisdiction over waterways.
But OMB argued that if Barrasso's bill became law, any changes to the Clean Water Act would require the agencies to use definitions of U.S. waters that are inconsistent with the law.
It would also "require the agencies to expend scarce resources to duplicate the transparent rulemaking process just completed, which involved extensive public outreach and participation, including over 400 public meetings, and 1 million public comments," OMB stated.
"More than one in three Americans get their drinking water from rivers, lakes and reservoirs that are at risk of pollution from upstream sources," the OMB statement said in underscoring the administration's belief in the importance of a strong Clean Water Act.