A House measure that would redefine federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction has won environmentalists' support but sparked industry opposition. The bill, introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) in May, is partly a response to the Supreme Court's 2006 Rapanos ruling, which dealt with the scope of federal wetlands authority.
The bill states that federal jurisdiction goes beyond "navigable waters" to cover "waters of the United States." Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol Browner told a House subcommittee hearing on July 18 that the bill would re-affirm what Congress meant by "navigable" in the clean-water law.
But the transportation panel's top Republican, John Mica (Fla.), cautions that the bill may expand federal authority "and create even more confusion and uncertainty" about interpreting the statute. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims that the bill would lead to more litigation and delays in permitting.