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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) questioned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy about the agency’s newly proposed rule to expand its jurisdiction of U.S. waterways to include “seasonal or rain-dependent” streams. The Corps and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed the rule on March 25, 2014 for a 90-day public comment period.

“This new rule would be another shot to our coal industry, making it nearly impossible for a surface mine to acquire a 404 permit," said Rogers. "We’ve already lost nearly 8,000 jobs in eastern Kentucky alone over the last two years, and this administration continues to demonstrate a lack of compassion for people trying to make a living in our coalfields across the country."

Assistant Secretary Darcy and Lt. General Thomas Bostick were witnesses during the fiscal year 2015 budget hearing before the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, of which Rogers serves as Chairman. 

“Assumedly, if you have this rule in place, you’re going to be the one that decides whether or not we can build a road across a dry bed,” Rogers clarified. “In order to build a street or extend a runway, every county, city, and state in the country would have to travel 3,000 miles here to plead with you to let them build a road across that dry bed.”

Rogers requested cost estimates from the Corps for mapping the newly defined “seasonal or rain-dependent” streams, along with determining property owners; However, Corps officials did not have any cost estimates to provide to the Committee.

“In my district, I know we have thousands of little creeks and streams, some of which only fill up when it rains. Nationwide, they’re in the tens of thousands,” said Rogers. “And to have the Corps and the EPA assert control over two-thirds of the country with no consideration of what it’s going to cost is astounding to me.”

When the Corps also failed to define the penalties that would be imposed in the event of a failure to acquire a permit, Rogers said, “strike two.”

“There will not be a penny for that program until we know the cost and more details,” asserted Rogers. “That rule is going to have a tough time up here and getting money to enforce it is going to have an even tougher time.” 

To view the hearing, click the photo below or visit:

*MEDIA NOTE: Rogers' questioning begins at 1:31:30 in the video clip.