The Idaho House has voted to condemn major portions of the Clean Water Restoration Act that is pending before the U.S. Senate.  The House agreed with Rep. Dell Raybould, R-Rexburg, that the legislation pending in Congress would have “drastic” negative effects on the state and its economy.

The Clean Water Restoration Act, sponsored by Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, would amend Federal Water Pollution Control Act to replace the words “navigable waters” with the words “waters of the United States.”  The original act gave the federal government authority to regulate rivers, streams, lakes, or other larger bodies of water.

Under the new language, however, Raybould is worried that the reach and scope of the federal government into environmental matters would exponentially increase and the regulations would hurt the industries that typically thrive in Idaho.  Ditches and irrigation canals that are used by farmers are ranchers to move water to their crops and animals could be subjected to regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said Raybould.  He noted that even underground water would be monitored if it is brought out of the ground to the surface of the earth.  Houses that use hot springs water for heating only, in which the water is encased in plumbing and returned to the springs after use, however, would not be eligible for regulation.

On the floor of the House, Raybould urged lawmakers to approve the legislation, which, if approved by the Senate, will be sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and each member of Idaho’s congressional delegation.  Raybould said the regulations, which could be imposed under the new language, are “frightening” and would have “drastic results” on the industries of Idaho.

The resolution was approved and is now awaiting hearing by the Senate Resources and Environment Committee.  The only dissenting vote against the resolution was cast by Rep. Branden Durst

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