- The National Association of Home Builders and six other national trade associations have sued the federal government in an effort to overturn the new "waters of the United States" rule that expanded the scope of the Clean Water Act.
The associations sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, saying the revised rule brings under federal jurisdiction bodies of water as small as roadside ditches and could burden builders with regulatory compliance and paperwork that could slow construction projects.
The attorneys general of 27 states have filed their own lawsuit against the rule, which NAHB Chairman Tom Woods called "extreme," "excessive" and "so vague and uncertain that our members cannot determine whether and when the most basic activities undertaken on their land will subject them to the Clean Water Act’s permitting requirements." He added: "We plan to fight this federal overreach every step of the way."
Woods said in a statement that the EPA left NAHB and associations representing the agriculture, ranching, mining and manufacturing industries "no other choice" than to sue after the agency "largely ignored" their appeals to exempt ponds, ditches and even "channels" that pool water only during a heavy rainfall, as they do not flow into bodies of water that contribute to public health and safety.
The final rule, issued last month, attempts "to exert jurisdiction over virtually every water feature imaginable," Woods said.
The potential result, he said: "This rule will needlessly raise housing costs and add more regulatory burdens to industries already struggling in a recovery economic environment."