In the House, several committees are holding oversight hearings on the “Waters of the U.S.” proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. On July 10, 2014, NAR provided a written statement on the proposal focusing on the existing homeowner and small business concerns. Also, NAR has worked with a coalition of real estate groups to concentrate on the commercial and home buyer impacts.
A central issue of the proposed rule is whether federal agencies must continue to physically visit and collect data before issuing wetlands determinations restricting land use on private property. However, because the agencies complain it’s too hard to prove the Clean Water Act applies, they want property owners to either a) do the analysis themselves and prove otherwise or b) go through a broken permit process in order to make routine land improvements like clearing brush or planting trees.
NAR believes that data and analysis leads to better regulatory decisions, and we point to an Inspector General report showing the current approach is working to limit unjustified regulation and also protect oceans, lakes or rivers that are navigable. We also provide the testimony of scientists that a literature review won’t provide a sound scientific basis for regulation, but that wetlands letters will complicate home buying decisions where there is fear and uncertainty. We urge Congress to stop these agencies from moving forward until they provide base regulation and sound science and fix the wetlands permit program which is creating only confusion and uncertainty.