Tester’s Quiet Support of EPA’s “Waters of the US” Rule

Policy photo: tester.senate.gov

The federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new “Water of the United States Rule” (WOTUS)  is drawing fierce criticism from both Democrats and Republicans alike in Montana. However, one person who has not joined in the criticism  is U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).

In a profile of the positions taken on the rule by various leaders from across Montana, Montana Public Radio (MTPR) described Tester’s policy, stating that he “generally supports the water rule, but says he’ll work to improve it even more.” No quotes were provided in the MTPR piece and no press release has been issued by the Senator’s office.

In an October 2014 press release from the Senator’s office, Tester claimed that since the WOTUS rule —  which many are concerned will lead to the EPA overseeing every privately owned “pond, puddle, and pothole” in the United States — was first proposed, he had been gathering information from everyday Montanans and had taken that input to Washington D.C. to allow officials there a chance to hear Montana’s opinions on the matter.

On the provisions within the regulation proposal, Tester stated then that “some have raised legitimate questions about how it would be implemented”—“Any final rule must be practically implemented on the ground and reflect the comments you receive,” he claimed. However, Since last week’s announcement of the rule’s adoption, which critics have derided as a gross power grab and a possible precursor to an  “administrative state,” Tester has been mum on the issue.

While Tester has remained quiet on or “generally supports” the rule, other Montana Democrats are vocal in their opposition. State Sen. Bradley Hamlett, (D-Cascade) has cited concerns that federal officials stepping into regulatory roles previously held by state officials would lead to oversight from individuals unequipped with the specialized local knowledge needed to perform the jobs.

Hamlett told MTPR that he wanted to ensure that, if Montanans “build a bridge across a river, or go back into a stream to re-establish your takeout for your irrigation diversion, that you’re not waiting two years to get it (permits)”— implying that he feels such delays would occur under federal stewardship.

The other two members — both Republicans — of Montana’s Congressional Delegation, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke have blasted EPA rules, with Daines stating that the new rules “by expanding expanding the EPA’s powers to regulate virtually any spot across the country that is occasionally wet, this new rule has the potential to cripple Montana’s agriculture and natural resources industries.”

As reported last week by Media Trackers, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has stated that “a lawsuit filed by his office and other states’ attorney’s general is a very real possibility in the wake of the announcement of the EPA’s new WOTUS rules.

Media Trackers Montana is a conservative non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting accountability in the media and government. Read more at mediatrackers.org/montana. Follow Media Trackers on Twitter @mediatrackersmt.

Jim Greaves

Monday, June 08, 2015 8:06 PM

How can you “improve on rules” that are unconstitutional? REMOVE them from the Federal Register. Mr. Tester is just playing us – like Baucus did before he quit to work for the Communist Chinese. The Federal Government has ZERO authority – constitutionally – to control what happens within a state, as long as it is not crimes against a person. The USE – and the right to USE – water for “purposes of the people of Montana” is not something over which the Feds have ANY authority. Mr. Tester forgets himself – prior to the 17th amendment the MT Legislature could have replaced him in a heart-beat – and he knows it and is taking “advantage” of what Obama and the UN plan for the entire world. Domination. But, MANY people in Montana know where he and other pretensive despots live – just like they know where we live, thanks to their treasonous permitting of NSA and other spying on us, whom they call terrorists. Well, those in DC are the REAL terrorists. Else they would not need drones and cameras to spy on us.

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