Turf wars over federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act are heating up again. Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee took up the debate in an April 6 hearing on legislation addressing the 2006 U.S. Supreme Court Rapanos decision. The bill seeks to change the definition of waters protected under the Clean Water Act from “navigable waters” to “waters of the United States.”

Former U.S. EPA Administrator Carol Browner said the court decision is a setback to Clean Water Act jurisdiction and that the new bill would establish definitions that are in keeping with previous EPA policy. But critics warn that the proposal would expand permitting requirements and lead to legal challenges.