July 29, 2015—On July 27, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, requesting confirmation of factual statements made in internal Army Corps of Engineers documents provided to the committee.
“Thank you for your prompt response to my July 16, 2015, letter to you requesting certain documents, the existence of which only recently came to my attention, relating to the development of the revised definition of the term ‘waters of the United States’ (WOTUS),” wrote Inhofe. “[W]hile interspersed with staff recommendations and legal conclusions that I understand you wish to keep confidential and hidden from the American public, the facts in these documents support my conclusion, and the conclusion of the 30 states that have already filed lawsuits challenging the final WOTUS rule, that the rule is lacking factual, technical and legal support. I also was surprised to learn that, even though the rule was purportedly a joint effort of EPA and the Corps, it appears that the Corps did not receive the draft final rule until EPA submitted it to interagency review on April 3, 2015, and according to Peabody’s April 27, 2015, memorandum to you, ‘the process followed to develop it greatly limited Corps’ input.’”
Inhofe, R-Okla., also told Darcy it appears that the Environmental Protection Agency didn’t provide the draft final rule to the Corps of Engineers until April 3 when it was submitted for interagency review.
The rule, which defines what streams, ditches, wetlands and other areas are subject to regulation as “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), is supposed to be a joint product of the EPA and Corps, which share regulatory responsibility under the law. The rule is set to take effect in August. However, provisions in pending appropriations bills would block the administration from implementing the rule during fiscal 2016. A series of lawsuits have been filed against the rule by 30 states and a coalition of industry groups, including theAmerican Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Manufacturers.
The documents reveal a dysfunctional process within and between the agencies, where political officials were making decisions over the vigorous objections and against the findings of agency staff, without taking the time to address the concerns. They show an “ends justify the means – get it done now, no matter what” mentality that is not appropriate for agency rulemaking on such an important issue.
This article was complied from FBNews.