Alabama, Florida and Georgia Join Forces to Fight Government Overreach

 

Chambers Support Attorneys General Water Rule Lawsuit against Environmental Protection Agency

 

ATLANTA, FL. (July 14 , 2015) – Managing water resources in southeastern states has, for too many years, been a contentious and divisive issue. Rarely have there been opportunities for state chambers of commerce from Alabama, Florida and Georgia to unite in support of a water resource management issue that will impact all states equally.

With their recently completed Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rulemaking, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have, unfortunately, provided an urgent need for our three chambers to come together to support action to counter the federal agencies regulatory overreach.

Attorneys General from eight (8) states, led by Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olens, have filed a lawsuit claiming that EPA has usurped the States’ primary responsibility for the management, protection, and care of intrastate waters and lands.

“A clean, reliable and affordable water supply is essential for Georgia communities, businesses and industries to continue to thrive,” said Georgia Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark. “However, the Waters of the United States rule will expand EPA’s rulemaking authority, resulting in increased costs and regulatory burdens for water users, and the potential to encroach on the property rights of individual water users. The business community supports efficient and effective oversight. It’s my hope that EPA will work with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to ensure appropriate policies continue to protect Georgia’s water supply.”

We wholeheartedly support this Attorneys General initiative to put a stop to EPA’s rulemaking before it becomes entrenched policy. We also pledge to make our members’ voices heard loud and clear on this issue.

“Florida, Georgia and Alabama have not always seen eye to eye on inter-state water issues, but when a tsunami of federal regulations threatens the economic security of our region, we join forces and fight for free-enterprise,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The economic impact of the Federal EPA’s recent Waters of the US rule will harm Florida’s economy, Florida families and our state’s small businesses- the EPA’s attempts to regulate have gone too far. We appreciate the leadership of Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi to join with other attorney generals to stop this latest federal government overreach.”

 

As the Attorneys General made clear in their lawsuit, not only does EPA’s rule violate the plain terms of the Clean Water Act, the United States Supreme Court’s decisions interpreting that Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the Constitution, the final rule asserts that the agencies have virtually limitless power over non-navigable, intrastate waters.

 

“The EPA’s latest effort to assume control over water – from puddles to navigable waters – is yet another unjustified power grab by unelected bureaucrats who are drowning businesses, states and local governments in regulations,” said Business Council of Alabama President and CEO William J. Canary. “This out of control government agency should be providing life jackets not anchors to the private and public sectors.”

 

If this rule is allowed to stand, there will tremendous cost to our states, our economies, and our families. Under this federal power grab, land and water decision-making will be transferred to Washington. Individual property rights are under threat, permitting and compliance costs will significantly rise. Business investments will be impacted and states will lose control over the management of resources that have been conferred to them by the Constitution.

 

Our business, industry and community members take seriously their collective responsibilities to wisely use and manage water within their jurisdictions and together we oppose this federal regulatory overreach.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Keisha N. Hines
Vice President, Communications
Georgia Chamber of Commerce
khines@gachamber.com
404-223-2275 – office
404-409-8950 – cell

 

Edie Ousley
Vice President of Public Affairs
Florida Chamber of Commerce
eousley@flchamber.com
850-521-1231 – office
850-251-6261 – cell

 

Nancy Wall Hewston
Vice President, Communications
Strategic Information and Federal Affairs
Business Council of Alabama
nhewston@bcatoday.org
334-240-8725 – office
703-585-8796 – cell

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Florida Chamber Applauds Attorney General and Agriculture Commissioner for Taking Legal Action to Stop the Federal Government’s Waters of the U.S. Rule

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (July 1 , 2015) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today applauds Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam for standing up for economic development,  small businesses and Florida’s environment by joining a multi-state lawsuit to block the federal government’s unscientific and newly expanded job killing water rule.

“The EPA’s finalized rule is a massive government overreach that threatens small businesses and private land owners, and goes far beyond efforts needed to protect our nation’s natural resources,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.  “The EPA went too far, too fast, rather than heeding the public’s calls to reevaluate its misguided rulemaking.”

Florida has some of the toughest environmental protections in the nation and the federal government’s action threatens to undermine them.  Under the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ finalized Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, ditches with only ephemeral or intermittent flow may fall under the federal government’s jurisdiction. Also, for the first time ever, the federal rule expressly authorizes EPA and the Corps to assert jurisdiction over marginal surface waters based on mere proximity to navigable waters or partial location within a 100-year floodplain.

Previous EPA efforts to impose burdensome, non-scientific water rules on Florida have been rebuffed by federal courts. With support from the Florida Chamber, Florida’s tough, scientifically-backed water regulations are now guarding our state’s waterways from excess nitrogen and phosphorous pollution.

Clean water is a priority for families and small businesses across Florida. Job creators rely on this natural resource to help provide products and services to their customers. For Florida’s farmers, home builders, retailers, building material manufacturers, transportation industry and other businesses, clean water is an economic necessity. That’s why the Florida Chamber supports Florida’s science-based environmental regulations and opposes EPA efforts to interject unneeded federal bureaucracy. Furthermore, as Floridians we care about water because of the unique quality of life it provides.

The Florida Chamber believes the federal government should take a page out of Florida’s playbook – following the lead of elected leaders like House Speaker Steve Crisafulli – which is doing more to protect our environment than simply issuing mandates.

In addition to applauding General Bondi and Commissioner Putnam for their efforts to stop the federal WOTUS rule, the Florida Chamber also thanks members of Florida’s Congressional Delegation for their support of H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015 providing relief for small businesses of WOTUS. This Act would require EPA and the Corps to withdraw this controversial rulemaking and instead pursue a commonsense process involving the states and local stakeholders.  Representatives voting in support of H.R. 1732 included: Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Curt Clawson, Ander Crenshaw, Carlos Curbelo, Ron DeSantis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Gwen Graham, David Jolly, John Mica, Jeff Miller, Rich Nugent, Bill Posey, Tom Rooney, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Dennis Ross, Dan Webster and Ted Yoho.

 

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.