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American Highway Users Alliance Applauds Waterways Announcement

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Daisy Singh, daisysingh@highways.org, 202-857-1200

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The Highway Users is pleased by today’s announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army have jointly proposed updated regulations to define the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS). According to the announcement, the new rules will clearly differentiate federally protected waterways from state protected waterways. For many road improvement projects, the proposed rule would help streamline planning and construction, ensuring that projects that make roads safer and more efficient are built quicker with fewer costs to road users.

Highway Users President & CEO Greg Cohen stated, “Like all Americans, motorists and truckers support clean water and reasonable regulations. However, Congress intended EPA and the Army to properly define the difference between federal and state waters. The U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in on this issue more than once and we expect that the proposed rule will be more consistent with court rulings than the prior ones.

According to the Clean Water Act, federal permits are intended primarily to protect navigable waterways. However, regulatory overreach in the past has led to federal permit requirements for road projects that impact roadside ditches and manmade storm water control, even within existing highway rights-of-way.

“For State and local transportation departments, the new rule should provide much-needed clarity on whether or not the costly and bureaucratic federal permitting process is required for their road projects. Without clarity, transportation departments would continue to waste taxpayers’ money on federal permitting studies to avoid lawsuits that take advantage of an overly expansive definition of federal waters,” Cohen remarked.

“Road users largely pay for the costs of highway improvements through fuel and truck taxes. When there is a need for a federal permit, these funds are spent to make sure the road project can be done. However, our money should not be wasted on slow and expensive federal permitting studies for impacts to waters that should never have been subject to federal jurisdiction. States are perfectly capable of issuing their own environmental permits to mitigate construction impacts of State waterways.”

The Highway Users looks forward to reviewing the proposed rule in greater detail and providing detailed comments to the EPA and Army in support of getting to a final rule.

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The American Highway Users Alliance represents motorists, RV enthusiasts, truckers, bus companies, motorcyclists, and a broad cross-section of businesses that depend on safe and efficient highways to transport their families, customers, employees, and products. Highway Users members pay the taxes that finance the federal highway program and advocate public policies that dedicate those taxes to improved highway safety and mobility.

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