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WASHINGTON I On Friday, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) raised concerns that a draft Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule would drastically broaden the agency’s regulatory authority over all wetlands and waterways.
“This draft EPA rule could amount to a massive water grab by the federal government, the scope of which has never been seen; the stakes are incredibly high for Colorado, and for all water users,” Tipton said. “Much like we saw with the federal Blueways Order, this new rule has the potential to further the administration’s erosion of state water law, jeopardize municipalities, communities and economies that rely on long-held individual water rights for their livelihood and derail a century of local conservation efforts to responsibly protect and manage our precious water supply. This federal overreach has to stop.”
The EPA’s draft rule redefines “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act to include bodies of all sizes and flows—virtually every form of surface water.
In March, the U.S. House of Representatives passed with bipartisan support Tipton’s legislation to uphold state water law and protect private water rights from uncompensated federal takings.
“Similarly, the Water Rights Protection Act speaks to this very problem of the federal government drastically overreaching and infringing on private property rights in an attempt to take control of our water,” Tipton said. “After this new EPA rule, if anybody still doubts that this administration is dead set on taking control of Western water — Colorado water — then they’re simply not paying attention.
“I urge the Senate to quickly pass my Water Rights Protection Act to provide some level of defense for private water rights holders from federal abuses,” he said. “Additionally, I will work with my colleagues at every opportunity to further prevent Washington bureaucrats from jeopardizing the health of our waterways, infringing on the private property rights of citizens and risking the economic certainty of Western communities.”
The Tipton-sponsored Water Rights Protection Act: Prohibits federal land management agencies from implementing a permit condition that requires the transfer of privately-held water rights to the federal government in order to receive or renew a permit for the use of land; prohibits the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture from imposing other conditions that require the transfer of water rights without just compensation; upholds longstanding federal deference to state water law; and has no cost to taxpayers.