Today the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on the "Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007," a bill to expand the jurisdictional scope of the Clean Water Act by removing any reference to the navigability of waters. Specifically, the bill replaces references to "navigable waters of the United States" with "waters of the United States" so as to assert federal authority over all interstate and intrastate waters and wetlands in the nation. In effect, the aim of the legislation is to overturn the Supreme Court's SWANCC and Rapanos decisions.
I was among those asked to testify on the bill. My testimony is available here. I make three basic points. First, the bill does not "restore" the Clean Water Act, as it could extend to many waters and lands never subject to regulation under the original act. Second, the bill will fail to achieve its stated goal of increasing regulatory certainty, as its vagueness and broad language will spur substantial litigation and controversy as courts struggle to determine the scope of federal authority. And finally, that the bill will not do much to advance environmental protection because it does nothing to focus limited federal regulatory and enforcement resources where they can do the most good.
I hope to post more after the hearing.