U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton denounced “regulatory overreach” by the federal government on matters of water and public lands in a speech at a Southwest Colorado Livestock Association meeting at the Elks Club in Cortez.
Tipton and other Republicans have been fighting the EPA’s proposed Waters of the United States rule, saying it puts private water rights at risk.
“The conditional permit (of the rule) impacts farm and ranch and ski areas because it requires you to sign over your water rights to the federal government if you want to get a lease renewed,” he said. “We call that theft.”
Opponents of the WOTUS rule say it expands federal jurisdiction of water rights under the Clean Water Act. After Colorado and 12 other states objected to the rule, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit put the rule’s implementation on hold.
Under the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate passed a resolution to disapprove the WOTUS rule, but it was vetoed by President Barack Obama.
Tipton, who represents the 3rd Congressional District, said his Water Rights Protection Act bill would provide a way to challenge the federal government on seizing water rights without just compensation in exchange for land-use permits. The bill has passed the House and has a hearing on the Senate side.
A directive out of the U.S. Forest Service to regulate groundwater also is a concern, he said.
“As far as the Forest Service groundwater regulation, they backed off on the rule, but there in lies the problem; the bureaucracy could move it forward at a later time. They will try and wait you out,” Tipton said during the speech last week.
Federal regulatory directives such as the EPA’s WOTUS and the Clean Power Plan are taking over the legislative system, Tipton said.
“We have seen the power of legislative bodies eroded by rule and regulations,” he said. “Frankly, it is Congress’ fault. They yielded back authority to the executive branch and it must be reclaimed.”
His office is refocusing attention to Article 1 of the Constitution that identifies the role of Congress to pass legislation.
“Once a rule or regulation goes final, it takes the proverbial Act of Congress to rescind it,” Tipton said. “Yet the regulation was never voted on by any Republican or Democrat in the House or Senate, and that is not the way the Constitution intended.”
Tipton’s Reins Act bill attempts to address the federal regulatory rule-making trend he sees as trumping the more fair legislative process. The bill has passed the House but has not moved in the Senate.
Tipton said the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan is another form of overreach by the federal government. The rules would limit emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases from coal-fired and natural gas power plants.
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the Clean Power Plan rules, possibly putting the regulations in jeopardy.
“We can mine, drill and produce energy responsibly,” Tipton said. “These jobs are important. When businesses have to implement certain regulatory policies, those costs are passed on. The net take-home pay of the worker is eroded due to the silent taxes of over-regulation.”