Last month the EPA released its final draft of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which will allow it to regulate private property anywhere that water can conceivably flow. Under these new regulations, the EPA can control everything from drains and ditches to small wetlands that have a “significant nexus” to a navigable waterway.  Specifically, waters nearly a mile (4,000 feet) away from the high water mark of a navigable waterway could be subject to increased regulations.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) write in a joint Op-Ed that according to the EPA’s own estimates, the finalized WOTUS rule will cost American property owners and small businesses between $158 million and $465 million a year.   The American Farm Bureau Federation calls the guidelines for this rule “so over broad and so vague that they are open to wildly varying agency interpretations.”  

For example, take the case of Wyoming farmer Andy Johnson.  After putting significant time and effort into building a needed stock pond on his private property, Johnson is facing backlash from the EPA under the new WOTUS rules.  Despite complying with all applicable state rules, the EPA claims that Johnson needed a permit from the agency when deciding what to do with his land.  Johnson claims that the agency has threatened him with severe criminal charges and a daily fine of $75,000.  

 Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) released the following statement in response to the WOTUS rule: 

“The administration’s decree to unilaterally expand federal authority is a raw and tyrannical power grab that will crush jobs.  House Members of both parties have joined more than 30 governors and government leaders to reject EPA’s disastrous WOTUS rule.  These leaders know firsthand that the rule is being shoved down the throats of hardworking people with no input, and places landowners, small businesses, farmers, and manufacturers on the road to a regulatory and economic hell.” 

WOTUS is just one example of continued EPA overreach that will cost American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.  Under the finalized rule, the EPA will not only infringe the property rights of millions of American taxpayers and small businesses, but will ironically do so using their own tax dollars.