Boxer vows to block Clean Water Act veto legislation

Manuel Quiñones, E&E reporter
Published: Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) vowed yesterday to block legislation to limit U.S. EPA’s Clean Water Act veto power.

Last month, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a bill to prevent the agency from vetoing Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act Section 404 permits after they’re issued.

The bill was in direct response to EPA blocking dredge-and-fill allowances for an Arch Coal Inc. mine in West Virginia years after the corps had issued them.

After EPA’s victory in the courts, Arch and its defenders boosted their pressure on Congress to act. They say a broad interpretation of the veto power could affect the broader economy.

But Boxer, a fierce defender of the Clean Water Act and skeptical of reopening discussions on the landmark law, said yesterday the House bill had no chance in the upper chamber.

EPA critics, also worried about the agency pre-emptively vetoing the Pebble cooper and gold mining project in Alaska, hope they can find a broader bill to carry provisions limiting the veto power.

Asked whether she would be able to block such attempts, Boxer yesterday simply said, “Yes.”

Several coal and mining companies appear to be boosting their lobbying spending in Washington, D.C., amid broader discussions about the fuel’s future and EPA oversight.

Arch Coal reported $440,000 in first quarter lobbying this year, up from roughly $242,000 during the same time last year. Alpha Natural Resources Inc. boosted its first quarter spending from $242,258 last year to $329,701 this year.

The National Mining Association’s first quarter spending went up from $460,000 last year to almost $1 million this year. And Peabody Energy Corp.’s grew from $660,000 last year to $780,000 this year.

When it comes to environmental groups, Earthjustice’s first quarter spending went down from $149,176 in 2013 to $137,571 this year. The Sierra Club’s went up from $70,000 for the first quarter of 2013 to $90,000 for the same time this year.

COPYRIGHTED: Environment and Energy Publishing

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  1. Sam Booher on May 11, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    Thanks for keeping me posed.
    We are doing all we can in Georgia to stop coal.

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