Murkowski: Alaskans ‘Scared to Death’ of Water Reg

The White House is reviewing a highly controversial EPA rule on streams and wetlands. It’s known as “Waters of the U.S.,” or WOTUS. Opponents complain the federal government is trying to regulate puddles and muddy farm fields, charges the EPA says are unfounded.

Today Sen. Lisa Murkowski pressed EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on the proposed regulation. Alaska has nearly two-thirds of the nation’s wetlands, and Murkowski says the rule has all kinds of people worried, from homebuilders to miners and energy companies.

“They are scared to death about what we might see with application of this rule,” Murkowski told McCarthy. “And you keep using the word ‘clarification,’ or ‘this is just to clarify,’ but again I’m hearing from too many different sectors saying, ‘This is not clarification. This is a limitation on our ability to not only move but to breathe.’”

McCarthy stuck to her claim that the rule is not an expansion of Clean Water Act, merely a clarification to comply with Supreme Court rulings. She says it would not expand the acreage covered by the Clean Water Act but better defines where it applies.

The U.S. House is expected to vote tomorrow on a bill to block the WOTUS rule, which the White House has pledged to veto. Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan is among a group of mostly Republican senators announcing another anti-WOTUS bill tomorrow.