Wednesday afternoon, the Ohio Chamber testified in support of House Bill 175 in Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. HB 175 clarifies the Ohio EPA’s definition and regulation of ephemeral streams and aligns it with the U.S. EPA’s 2020 classifications of what is considered a “navigable water” that requires regulatory oversight.
Ensuring that state environmental regulations are no more stringent than their federal counterparts is crucial to facilitating economic growth. Clear, easily implemented, and legally-sound permitting regulations help regulators, landowners, and property developers from all industries make sound resource allocation decisions that protect the environment while encouraging business development.
In early 2020, the US EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers announced their replacement of a 2015 Obama-era rule that expanded the “Waters of the United States” definition. The 2020 rule outlines what is not considered a WOTUS, which includes features that only contain water in direct response to rainfall, also known as ephemeral streams. Ephemeral streams are features that flow in direct response to rain or snow melt and receive little to no water from a spring or headwater.
HB 175 redefines an ephemeral stream as an ephemeral feature to represent this classification of water more accurately since there is no permanent water flow. Due to this new categorization, ephemeral streams would no longer be subjected to a section 401 water quality certification. Not only would this be a cost savings to the business owner, but it would also create clarity as to what types of features must and mustn’t be regulated.
HB 175 promotes environmental protection by limiting unnecessary government overreach while giving the business community the regulatory certainty they need to effectively operate.
The Ohio Chamber urges the Ohio Senate to pass this priority legislation.