The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is facing a challenge from the U.S. Senate. A 2006 Supreme Court decision laid the groundwork by “requiring the EPA to prove significant connections between potential sources of pollution and major waterways in order to regulate them.” Now, a Senate committee has passed a bill that would overturn a recent EPA clean water rule, which represented an attempt by the agency to “re-establish jurisdiction over some remote streams, ditches and wetlands that could be sources of pollution to the nation’s rivers and lakes.” The bill will now likely head to the full Senate for a vote.

Jim Spencer (@jimspencer10) writes for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Allison Sherry (@AllisonSherry) contributed to this report.


Supporters of the bill, including Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., characterized the new EPA rule as “regulatory overreach.”

Democrats against the bill, including Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said it “rips the heart out of the Clean Water Act.”

Agricultural and environmental interests around the country “have lobbied furiously over the EPA rule.” Farmers argue the rule adds “needless regulation and expense to their operations.” Environmental interests say the rule is needed to “regain pollution control over half of the nation’s streams in order to protect drinking water and recreational lakes and rivers.”

For additional information about the 2006 Supreme Court decision, you may wish to read this brief explanation provided by Law Week Colorado.

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