The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final "waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rule. In taking this action, EPA greatly expanded its own regulatory authority and created new bureaucratic red tape for many U.S. industrial activities, according to the Portland Cement Association.

“This rule will impact a wide range of normal U.S. industrial and agricultural activities, at a time when workers are just getting back on the job after eight years of tough economic times,” said James G. Toscas, PCA president and CEO. “This is simply the wrong kind of regulation at the wrong time.”

Serious concerns were voiced in public comments when this rule was originally proposed. A key concern was that decisions on where the new rule would apply could be made by government officials on a case-by-case basis. EPA said that it addressed the public comments, but the final version of the rule had only cosmetic changes.

“We take environmental compliance very seriously. This rule will make it much more difficult for a cement production facility not only to comply, but also to even know whether it is in compliance,” Toscas continued. “We also foresee construction projects being delayed and stalled as contractors struggle to figure out how to comply with complex new requirements that go far beyond anything Congress intended with the Clean Water Act.”

In response to public opposition to the WOTUS rule, last week the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed bipartisan legislation that requires regulators to work with states, industry and other stakeholders to develop practical ways to protect water quality. Similar legislation is now pending in the Senate.

“This is yet another example of government overreach that is unlikely to help the environment, but very likely to hurt the economy. Congress is right to send EPA back to the drawing board on this one,” said Toscas.

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