Arkansas Environmental Quality Department Director Joins Westerman for Subcommittee Hearing

September 18, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) gave the following opening statement at a Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment hearing, titled, “The Administration’s Priorities and Policy Initiatives Under the Clean Water Act.” Westerman is the lead Republican on the subcommittee.

“Thank you, Chairwoman Napolitano, for holding this hearing, and thank you to our witnesses for being here to discuss EPA’s initiatives under the Clean Water Act. In particular, I’d like to acknowledge Assistant Administrator Dave Ross from EPA’s Office of Water for taking the time to be here today, as well as Secretary of Energy and Environment Becky Keogh, from my home state of Arkansas. …

“… Living in rural Arkansas, many of my friends and constituents rely on clean water for their drinking water, and homes, businesses and farms rely on effective wastewater management and irrigation to preserve their livelihoods. Protecting our waters is absolutely critical to communities and ecosystems at home and all around the nation.

“We have made substantial progress over the past four and a half decades improving water quality in our nation. But I also understand that some challenging issues still remain.

“The most effective way to address these issues is through implementing effective and pragmatic environmental policies under the Clean Water Act that balance environmental, economic, and social outcomes. States need to be empowered and engaged as equal partners with the federal government in working to achieve these objectives. Neither the federal government nor a state should become overbearing and upset that balance. …

“… It is critical that neither the federal government nor a state takes too heavy-handed an approach. We can and must protect and restore America’s waters and wetlands with effective and pragmatic policy and regulation that provides regulatory certainty and is devoid of armies of consultants and lawyers. Legal and policy decisions must be informed by good science, be clear and concise, and preserve states’ traditional authorities.

“I look forward to hearing testimony today from the EPA and stakeholders on how we can strike a balance between regulatory clarity and the need for robust environmental protection of waters and wetlands, and also maintain the federal-state partnership envisioned under the Clean Water Act.”

Click here to watch Westerman’s full statement.

Becky Keogh, Director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, also testified before the subcommittee.

“As our state slogan suggests, in Arkansas we are incredibly concerned with the health, beauty and safety of the waters of the United States. In fact, our governor has recently taken extraordinary steps (both financial and regulatory) to ensure the enduring beauty and quality of the Buffalo National River, America’s first National River, which was designated as such by this very body several decades ago. …

“… Finding the balance between progress and preservation is a constant struggle for environmental regulators, legislators and, increasingly more often, federal judges. That is one too many cooks in the kitchen, I think we all can agree. When judges are left to legislate, we have all failed. The recent repeal of the 2015 Clean Water Rule is the first step in making sure we are all using the same cookbook and the same recipe.”

Click here to watch Keogh’s full testimony, and here to watch Westerman’s questioning.