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OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 2018 - Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act (Rep. Mica, R-FL, and 39 cosponsors)

WASHINGTON - The Administration strongly opposes H.R 2018 because it would significantly undermine the Clean Water Act (CWA) and could adversely affect public health, the economy, and the environment.

Under the CWA, one of the Nation’s most successful and effective environmental laws, the Federal Government acts to ensure safe levels of water quality across the country through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since the enactment of the CWA in 1972, the Federal Government has protected the waterways our citizens depend on by using its checks and balances authority to review and adjust key State water pollution control decisions, where necessary, to assure that they reflect up to date science, comply with the law, and protect downstream water users in other States. H.R. 2018 would roll back the key provisions of the CWA that have been the underpinning of 40 years of progress in making the Nation’s waters fishable, swimmable, and drinkable.

H.R. 2018 could limit efforts to safeguard communities by removing the Federal Government’s authority to take action when State water quality standards are not protective of public health. In addition, it would restrict EPA’s authority to take action when it finds that a State’s CWA permit or permit program is inadequate and would shorten EPA’s review and collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers on permits for dredged or fill material. All of these changes could result in adverse impacts to human health, the economy, and the environment through increased pollution and degradation of water bodies that serve as venues for recreation and tourism, and that provide drinking water sources and habitat for fish and wildlife.

H.R. 2018 would disrupt the carefully constructed complementary CWA roles for EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and States in protecting water quality. It also could eliminate EPA’s ability to protect water quality and public health in downstream States from actions in upstream States, and could increase the number of lawsuits challenging State permits. In sum, H.R. 2018 would upset the CWA’s balanced approach to improve water quality across the Nation, risking the public health and economic benefits of cleaner waters.

If the President is presented with this legislation, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

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