Water is a very precious and scarce resource in Arizona. We are fortunate to have innovative water management that has enabled Arizona to prosper while providing a quality water supply for industries, businesses, residents and visitors.
The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce recently joined 375 other business groups in filing opposition to the proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to change the definition of “water of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.Regulation of the nation’s waters must be done in a way that does not impose tremendous costs nor have a devastating impact on businesses, states or local governments. The agencies’ assertion that the proposed change in definition has no major effect is just not true. As written, the proposed modification will have a huge impact on ordinary business activities. The proposed rule is so vague that it would be nearly impossible for business owners and landowners to ascertain whether features on their property — which may not even look like waters — could be considered waters of the United States under the revised definition. The revision is an unjustified expansion of the Clean Water Act far beyond the limits of federal regulation established by Congress and will have the immediate impact of expanding federal authority over land use and waters that are currently regulated by the individual states.
Everyone wants clean water. In many cases, businesses depend on it to survive and prosper. However, the proposed modification is not about addressing threats to clean water. This is actually an overreaching attempt by the agencies to replace local and state control of land uses near water with federal control.
The proposed rule would have a profoundly negative impact on businesses, individual states and local governments without any significant benefit to water quality. The agencies should withdraw this proposal, start over and fully engage Arizona’s key stakeholders to gain a thorough understanding of Arizona’s canal systems, dry desert washes and other unique features and then develop regulation modifications that truly protect waters and encourage economic growth and prosperity.
– Mike Huckins is vice president of public affairs, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.