The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to block the EPA from implementing a new plan that critics say could significantly broaden the agency's ability to impose environmental regulations over America's waterways.
Many farmers and landowners across the country say rules proposed last year by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would give federal regulators even more say over waters. The issue had become a hotly contested one for many who say there are already too many government regulations affecting their businesses.
The House bill, approved by a 261-155 vote, would force the EPA to withdraw the rules and consult with state and local officials before rewriting them.
The rules would clarify which streams, tributaries and wetlands should be protected from pollution and development under the Clean Water Act.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said one out of three Americans get their drinking water from sources that aren't clearly protected, and the rules would make sure those waters aren't polluted.
Some lawmakers said it was overreach and was aggravating longstanding trust issues between rural areas and the federal government.
The rule would "trample on private property rights and hold back our economy," read a memo sent out by the office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., before the House floor debate.
The White House has threatened to veto the legislation.
A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill last month that would lay out what bodies of water should be covered and force the EPA to rewrite the rules by the end of next year.
"We've got a whole lot of pent-up frustration and concern because it seems like every time they turn around, there is a new set of regulations for farmers to be concerned about," says North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat who is backing the Senate bill. Heitkamp, narrowly elected in a competitive Senate race in 2012, says it's the number one issue she hears about from farmers.
"It's the perfect example of the disconnect between Washington and rural areas," says Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, another Democrat backing the legislation.
If you're tried of federal overreach, a Convention of States offers a solution. At such a convention, states can propose constitutional amendments that limit the ability of federal agencies to regulate every area of American life.