House bill limits EPA's power to protect water from pollution

Posted: July 14, 2011

WASHINGTON - The Republican-controlled House passed a bill yesterday that would sharply curtail the federal government's role in protecting waters from pollution by barring the Environmental Protection Agency from overruling state decisions on water quality.

The bill passed on a 239-184 vote. Sixteen Democrats joined the majority of Republicans in supporting it. The White House threatened to veto the bill, saying that it "would roll back the key provisions . . . that have been the underpinning of 40 years of progress in making the nation's waters fishable, swimmable and drinkable."

Under the Clean Water Act, states have primary responsibility for protecting waterways after the EPA signs off on its plans. But the agency can step in if it thinks water resources aren't being adequately protected.

The measure strips the EPA of that oversight authority. Drafters of the bill said yesterday that the goal was to restore cooperation between the federal government and the states, and to rein in an agency that they argue is running roughshod over states' rights for a political agenda that kills jobs and harms the economy.

The bill included a provision requiring the EPA to determine the toll its actions to protect water quality would have on jobs.

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