Jul 24, 2009

NUCA President Testifies on Proposed Clean Water Restoration Act

Lyle Schellenberg suggested that infrastructure projects could be delayed by increased permitting requirements

National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) President Lyle Schellenberg testified before the House Committee on Small Business July 22 at a hearing titled "Meeting the Needs of Small Businesses and Family Farmers in Regulating our Nation's Waters." The stated goal of the hearing was to "hear testimony from small businesses on ways to ensure that the federal regulation of waterways meets the needs of our environment and economy."

Schellenberg suggested that the proposed Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) (S. 787) is not likely to meet either of those needs.

He said (in part): "As currently written, the CWRA (S. 787) would remove the term 'navigable' from the Clean Water Act and allow the Army Corps or Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency to regulate all 'waters of the United States.' NUCA's fundamental concern with this legislation is that instead of providing greater clarity, it will lead to: bigger government, increased permitting requirements for wet areas with little or no impact on the nation's waters, higher compliance costs and inevitably, significant increases in litigation. At the same time, desperately needed water and wastewater infrastructure projects could be delayed by increased permitting requirements, even if they had no link to rivers, streams or other 'navigable’ water bodies.”

Citing the findings of the Clean Water Council's recent Sudden Impact study, Schellenberg also noted that such delays would hamper the realization of the economic benefits associated with utility construction and site improvement projects—namely, job creation, increased demand for goods and services, rise in personal income and the generation of state and local tax revenue.

"Recognizing the potential for recovery in the underground environmental infrastructure industry," he said, "Congress should be looking to expand market opportunities, not stifle them."