October 13, 2014

Small business agency taking aim at waterways rule has outsized impact on federal regulations

From: E&E Publishing/Greenwire

Annie Snider

A little-known federal office that has long been a thorn in the side of regulatory reform advocates is taking center stage in the battle over a controversial water regulation.

The fireworks began in earnest last week when the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy filed comments to the proposed water regulation that echoed talking points from industry and congressional opponents. The regulation would have a significant, direct impact on small entities, and U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers erred by not doing an analysis of those impacts, the office wrote, calling for the rule to be withdrawn (E&ENews PM, Oct 1).

The letter was confirmation to opponents that the rule to increase the number of streams and creeks that currently receive automatic Clean Water Act protection would have sweeping economic consequences. They quickly made hay of it, promoting the letter through social media and news releases. A letter from American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman this week went to every member of the Senate arguing that the SBA Office of Advocacy’s conclusions “validated our concerns.”


“In a lot of ways, what the Office of Advocacy does and what effect they have on the rulemaking process is very similar to that of OIRA, the difference being that they’re not as well known so they sort of fly under the radar in a way, and their impact isn’t quite as well recognized,” Goodwin said.

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