WASHINGTON – President Obama has vetoed an attempt by the Republican-led Congress to block a new rule that extends federal oversight of water pollution. The joint resolution that sought to block the rule that passed the House and Senate mostly along party lines. The partisan spread in the vote makes a veto override nearly impossible.
The Minnesota delegation voted along party lines, with the exception of Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, who represents a district with a significant number of farms. Peterson voted to block the rule.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. Rule expands government scrutiny beyond navigable rivers and lakes into tributaries and wetlands that feed them. The rule includes up to 60 percent of the nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands. Disturbing those waters and wetlands may require permits and pollution controls. The rule has sparked protests from farm and business interests, including those in Minnesota. Opponents say the new rule will violate private property rights and make development harder. Minnesota’s environmental community and many in the state’s massive tourism industry point to the need to keep Minnesota’s iconic lakes and rivers clean in order to attract visitors.