A picture of Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler
Jaime H.
Republican WA 3

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  • Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1644, Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining Act

    by Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler

    Posted on 2016-01-12

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    HERRERA BEUTLER. Mr. Speaker, for 20 years, Republican and Democratic administrations, alike, have effectively regulated navigable waters--which is the official term--under the Clean Water Act to protect both our environment and private property, but the Obama administration is trying to change all of that. The Obama Administration's new definition will give the EPA authority over every pond or seasonal stream, drainage ditch, or puddle in the United States--every single one. Every piece of land where water falls from the heavens, the EPA is claiming control over.

    What does that mean if you want to put a deck on your house or move your driveway or build a shed or something similar? It means you are going to have to apply to the Federal Government for a permit.

    What do those permits look like? They take upwards of 788 days to obtain, and they cost upwards of $270,000 to get per permit, per puddle, per ditch, or per stream that you want to amend.

    So I hope you are either really rich and have a ton of time on your hands or you don't want to ever change anything because this is almost impossible.

    I would call this new change a solution in search of a problem, but it is a solution that is going to create a problem. There is no evidence that this is going to give us stronger environmental protections, that we are going to have cleaner water, or that we are even going to have a benefit. What is really going to happen is the EPA is going to be kingmaker; and you and I, as Americans, are going to be forced to grovel at their feet, begging for permits on our own land.

    This really impacts those of us in the West tremendously. Every American should sit up and pay attention because this impacts everybody, including cities and counties.

    I hope you don't need a new hospital in your area or you don't need a grocery store or perhaps your city needs to expand or grow or change, because this effectively says that one agency, headed by very political and liberal--at this point, very liberal--ideologues will get to make that decision, and they are not going to give us the benefit. That is the scary thing here.

    So I look forward to joining with Republicans and commonsense Democrats, because believe it or not, just like in years past, Republicans and Democrats are both opposed to this, to put this block in place and to move forward.

    Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Mr. Speaker, I would just simply say that there is a difference between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to the environment, protecting the health and well-being of the people of this country, especially from industry. I think we, on the Democratic side, have consistently been on the side of protecting people, and my friends on the other side have been consistently on the side of industry, no matter what it means to people.

    We see what is going on in Flint, Michigan, right now and the terrible water crisis that is happening there and the Republican Governor who is part of what appears to be a coverup at the expense of those citizens. It really is quite astonishing.

    {time} 1330 Again, this bill is going nowhere. It is going to be vetoed by the White House. So we can go through this charade.

    I would just conclude right now, at least this portion of my speech here, by saying that, as I said in the beginning, if, in fact, my friends on the other side of the aisle want to get serious about legislating, there are areas of agreement on these environmental issues, and certainly on this issue regarding Iran, where Democrats and Republicans can come together. But for whatever reason, I think my Republican friends have no interest in serious legislating. I think that is regrettable because what we are doing here is wasting taxpayer money and wasting the people's time here in this Congress. We could be doing other things that could actually be moving this country forward.

    [[Page H305]] I reserve the balance of my time.

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