Anchorage, AK - The Alaska Chamber joined with 375 trade associations and chambers from 50 states representing a wide range of industries to voice strong concerns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ flawed proposed rule to dramatically expand the scope of federal authority over water and land uses across the U.S. and called for the proposal to be withdrawn. The effort was led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"With the vast majority of Alaska deemed wetlands, our state stands to be the biggest loser of the EPA’s proposed Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule,” said Rachael Petro, President and CEO of the Alaska Chamber. “If the WOTUS rule becomes final it codifies federal overreach and will stifle an already sluggish federal permitting process. In a state in which we still need to build basic infrastructure, the rule would have negatively impact any development.”
As the groups’ comments state, “The proposed rule is really about the Agencies’ overreaching attempt to replace longstanding state and local control of land uses near water with centralized federal control. In light of the overwhelming evidence that the proposed rule would have a devastating impact on businesses, states, and local governments without any real benefit to water quality, the Agencies should immediately withdraw the waters of the U.S. proposal and begin again. The current proposed rule is simply too procedurally and legally flawed to repair.”
The comments detail several examples of the impacts of the proposed rule, including:
- Maps prepared by EPA show the rule could expand federal jurisdiction over waters from 3.5 million river and stream miles to well over 8 million river and stream miles;
- The rule would make most ditches into “tributaries.” Routine maintenance activities in ditches and on-site ponds and impoundments could trigger permits that can cost $100, 000 or more;
- These permitting requirements would likely trigger additional environmental reviews that would add years to the completion time for ordinary projects;
- Even if a project can get a permit, firms will often have to agree to mitigate environmental “damage” with costly restoration/mitigation projects;
- The proposal would likely also result in more stringent storm water management requirements, which would affect retailers, companies with large parking lots, “big box” stores, etc.
About the Alaska Chamber
The Alaska Chamber, a private, non-profit corporation, operating since 1952, works to promote a positive business environment in Alaska. The Alaska Chamber is the voice of small and large business across the state with a Board of Directors comprised of 80 members representing all regions of the state. For more information visit www.alaskachamber.com.