WASHINGTON – During a Congressional hearing, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito questioned a proposed federal Environmental Protection Agency rule that would extend its authority to all bodies of water.

Capito (R-W.Va.) told EPA administrator Gina McCarthy on Feb. 4 that the agency’s regulatory overreach is “unacceptable” in a state like West Virginia.

Under the EPA’s proposed “Waters of the United States” rule, the agency’s authority would extend to almost all bodies of water, no matter the size or frequency.

In a September blog post on The Huffington Post, McCarthy said 60 percent of the nation’s streams and “millions” of acres of wetlands lack protection from pollution under the EPA’s Clean Water Act.

McCarthy called the new rule – proposed in March last year – a “fix” to the problem.

But Capito argued that bringing “ephemeral waters” into the rule brings confusion and uncertainty.

“This is unacceptable in a state like West Virginia,” she told McCarthy during the hearing. “You can’t let the whim of a particular Corps or EPA employee decide which private property is now federally regulated.”

Capito fears the new rule could hurt future farming, highway and road construction projects in the Mountain State.

Not to mention, the state’s oil and natural gas industries could be dealt a blow, she said.

“The trust factor here with your agency is not as good in our state as I’m sure we would all like it to be,” Capito admitted.

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