«This legislation would prevent a federal land grab that would raise housing costs and harm conservation, water quality, job growth and economic development,» said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo.
Approved by a bipartisan vote of 261 to 155, H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, would require EPA and the Corps to withdraw their proposed rule and develop a new plan in consultation with state and local governments and other affected stakeholders, including the small business community. The bill also stipulates that such a plan must be based on sound economic and scientific analysis.
By proposing to dramatically enlarge the definition of «waters of the United States» to include almost any water body, such as ditches, mudflats, isolated ponds and other water features, the agencies would vastly increase federal regulatory power over private property.
«The proposed rule would not add any meaningful environmental protections but it would exacerbate regulatory uncertainty by significantly extending the areas in which home builders are required to get permits,» said Woods. «In turn, this would lead to bureaucratic delays, additional costs and more expensive homes.»
The agencies failed to consult with state and local governments before unveiling their plan last year, prompting 34 states to formally request that the proposed rule be withdrawn. Moreover, EPA and the Corps did not adhere to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which requires an assessment on how the proposal would affect America’s small businesses.
NAHB is urging the Senate to pass companion legislation S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, sponsored by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).
ABOUT NAHB: The National Association of Home Builders is a Washington-based trade association representing more than 140,000 members involved in home building, remodeling, multifamily construction, property management, subcontracting, design, housing finance, building product manufacturing and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction. NAHB is affiliated with 800 state and local home builders associations around the country. NAHB’s builder members will construct about 80 percent of the new housing units projected for this year.