Meeting with U.S. Representative Kevin Yoder
The HBA recently had an opportunity to sit down with U.S. Representative Kevin Yoder to discuss Waters of the US, a rule produced by the EPA to drastically expand jurisdiction over what bodies of water are subject to agency regulation. HBA members and staff that attended the meeting were Mark Mather, Richard Mather, Harold Phelps, Brenner Holland, Tom French, Sara Corless, and Katie Walkley.
Representative Yoder voted for legislation in the House that would withdraw the current rule and charge the EPA to create a new one with more oversight, transparency, and consultation with local governments. However, he indicated the chances of the bill passing the Senate are small; this has largely been interpreted as a partisan issue. There might be potential to mitigate certain aspects of the rule by means of legislation, but it is doubtful the rule will be withdrawn entirely under this administration. Unfortunately the broad language of the rule could mean long delays, expensive permits, and severe fines for builders.
His strategy, instead of a stand-alone bill, would take a budgetary approach. It might be possible to stop or at least delay the funding necessary to implement the rule. As Representative Yoder serves on the House Appropriations Committee, he is cautiously optimistic about this option. He also suggested the HBA should contact the regional EPA and organize a meeting to discuss how they plan to implement WOTUS in this area.
Representative Yoder expressed particular interest in how the new regulations would impact the home building industry. HBA members provided concrete examples of the costs and delays to builders as well as explaining how, due to the nature of the land in this area, it would be almost impossible to find a body of water that would not fall under the EPA’s jurisdiction. Overall, the meeting was a valuable opportunity to communicate the HBA’s concerns and priorities directly to a member of Congress, who will personally take them back to Washington DC.