NAHB: Avoid overreaction on water regulation

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) applauded new legislation designed to curb regulatory overreach, building delays and red tape.

Introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and 29 other Senators from across the country, the Preserve Waters of the United States Act would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) from using a draft guidance to dramatically expand the scope of the Clean Water Act.

Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the NAHB and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla., issued the following statements regarding the proposed act:

"We commend Sen. Barrasso for introducing this bill to compel the EPA and Corps to go back to the drawing board and craft a balanced approach to federal jurisdiction of the nation's waterways.

"The EPA and Corps are getting ready to issue a guidance document that will evade the more transparent rule-making process to eliminate all reasonable limits on the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction. As a result, the federal government's reach would extend to all waters, including storm sewers and retention basins and seasonal streams.

"This blatant regulatory overreach would lead to many more land development, road construction and residential projects requiring federal permits and would exacerbate permitting delays. In turn, this will increase construction costs, cause job losses, drive down housing affordability and hamper economic growth.

"The nation's home builders have long supported the goals of the Clean Water Act, which is called into play when homes are built near rivers or wetlands and when builders take steps to avoid storm water runoff from construction sites. But recklessly broadening the scope of the act to include virtually all waters -- including roadside ditches -- within its regulatory reach will severely restrict the industry's ability to recover and make new homes more costly without a corresponding environmental benefit," Rutenberg said.