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Cummings Issues Statement and Backgrounder on Republican Staff Report on Clean Water Rule

Oct 27, 2016
Press Release

Cummings Issues Statement and Backgrounder on Republican Staff Report on Clean Water Rule

 

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 27, 2016)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued a statement and backgrounder in response to the release of a Republican staff report criticizing a new joint rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers implementing the Clean Water Act:

“When the Governor of Michigan and his Administration caused the Flint water crisis, House Republicans criticized the EPA for not taking stronger, faster action, yet now those same Republicans are criticizing the EPA for doing exactly that with respect to the new rule protecting clean drinking water for millions of Americans.  Nonpartisan, independent auditors at GAO have already concluded that the EPA and Army Corps complied with applicable laws and regulations, and the top official at the Army signed off on the final rule.  Despite Monday-morning quarterbacking and claims of process fouls by House Republicans, the fact is that this new rule will help protect drinking water for millions of our constituents, and our Committee should support these efforts rather than try to undermine them.”

Unfortunately, the Republican staff report disregards key evidence obtained by the Committee:

  • The new rule will help protect drinking water for millions of Americans.  When Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, it charged the federal government with safeguarding the environmental quality of certain navigable waters.  After years of confusion over the definition of navigable waters, the EPA and Army Corps issued a joint Clean Water Rule in 2015 to protect access to safe, clean, and drinkable water for more than 117 million Americans.
  • On July 16, 2015, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report concluding that the EPA and Army Corps fully complied with statutory and regulatory requirements in promulgating their new joint rule implementing the Clean Water Act.
  • Despite isolated complaints by some within the Army, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, approved of the final joint rule after a thorough review of all views, informing the Committee during her interview:  “I considered all of the issues raised by the Corps.”
  • Contrary to Republican claims that the rule was rushed through for political reasons and not based on science, witnesses interviewed by the Committee explained that the rulemaking process took several years, which was typical for similar rulemakings, and they considered a wide variety of views and comments from stakeholders.

Click here to read additional background on the Oversight Committee’s investigation of the Clean Water rule.

 

114th Congress