The Portland Cement Association (PCA) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers last week, challenging the expansion of federal authority under the Clean Water Act through the new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which goes into effect Aug. 28.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma and was joined by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, the State Chamber of Oklahoma and the Tulsa Regional Chamber, PCA, based in Skokie, Illinois, said.
“Through WOTUS, federal regulators are asserting unprecedented
regulatory authority over large and small bodies of water throughout the
U.S., exceeding the scope that was set by Congress and upheld by the
Supreme Court. This will create needless gridlock, delays, and cost for
construction projects across the country, with little or no benefit to
the environment.”James Toscas, PCA's president and CEO, said in a statement.
The new ruling, the association said, includes an arbitrary, case-by-case determination as to which rules apply where, which would make compliance more difficult.
Baily Wood, a spokesperson with the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, (NSSGA), based in Alexandria, Virginia, agrees.
“I know of three other lawsuits under way, and in one of them, about 29 states have banded together," Wood said.
Wood said the ruling has created a massive expansion of EPA authority over areas that have little or nothing to do with navigable waters.
Wood said, for example, that if a gravel quarry wishes to move a high wall, it will be forced to go through the new ruling process and that if they’re not cleared, aggregate buyers would have to do business with a different quarry.
“It’s one more hurdle aggregate would have to go through, and the EPA may well have to come out and inspect, since they’re taking a case-by-case-basis approach. The EPA has been making a massive effort to expand its jurisdiction over everything they can get their hands on; they’re trying to seize as much as they can to regulate.”
The EPA’s new authority would create additional costs in the industry, Wood said.
“Rock is heavy; the further you have to haul it, the more it costs to move. It will dissuade an aggregate producer from doing business with a quarry that couldn’t meet the new requirements. That, in turn, might force them to do business with a quarry that is further away. That means more time, more gasoline.”