For media inquiries, please contact Cynthia Meyer at CMeyer@COchamber.com.
DENVER – The Colorado Chamber of Commerce today submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) in support of its revised definition of “Waters of the U.S.” (WoTUS) in the Clean Water Act. The Colorado Chamber previously opposed the original 2015 WoTUS rule, arguing that it inappropriately expanded the authority of the federal government without consideration for existing water protections already in place by the state.
Leah Curtsinger, director of federal policy for the Colorado Chamber, commended the EPA for creating a substantially more straightforward definition for all stakeholders, and also offered feedback for how to further improve upon the new rule.
“For businesses, farmers and ranchers, for those investing in our roads and building homes, and for our state’s energy developers and manufacturers, we applaud the proposed definition’s intent to simplify WoTUS,” Curtsinger said. “We support the agencies’ goal of ensuring an average person can comprehend the rule’s intent and limits, without having to devote much-needed resources to expensive legal counsel, engineers, or duplicative permits and studies for every project undertaken. Our members often share that every dollar going toward regulation compliance is a dollar not spent on employees, research, product development, maintenance or equipment.”
“In Colorado, we value our innovative business spirit, stewardship of the land and our ability to turn ideas into benefits for the economy and our state – in short, we are proud to live and work here. It is with this understanding that we say the newly-proposed WoTUS definitions provide a path to remove unnecessary and duplicative permitting delays, costs, and roadblocks for manufacturers of all sizes and in virtually all sectors of the nation’s economy, not just for Colorado,” Curtsinger continued. “Additionally, the removal of ‘other waters’ and ‘significant nexus’ definitions went a long way toward removing and repairing the legal ambiguity and costs of the 2015 rule.”
Regarding constructive feedback on the new proposed water rule, the Colorado Chamber suggested that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers consider further clarifying language related to some jurisdictional issues, including the burden of proof for jurisdictional designations, what is considered jurisdictional as an interstate water, and definitions surrounding “ephemeral features.”
Background: When the Obama Administration published the original WoTUS rule in 2015, the Colorado Chamber raised substantial concerns about its impact on the state’s economy. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers expanded the term “waters of the United States” within the Clean Water Act, which burdened many Colorado Chamber members and the broader business community with new permitting requirements and costly compliance costs. More than half of all U.S. states filed lawsuits against the rules, which resulted in federal court injunctions allowing 28 states, including Colorado, to comply with previous WoTUS standards.
The Colorado Chamber of Commerce was created in 1965 based on the merger of the Colorado Chamber and the Colorado Manufacturers’ Association. It is the only business association in Colorado that works to improve the business climate for all sizes of business from a statewide, multi-industry perspective. As a private, non-profit organization, the Colorado Chamber’s work is funded solely by its members.