A bipartisan group of 170 U.S. representatives wrote Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and Assistant Secretary of the Army's Civil Works agency Jo-Ellen Darcy to voice strong concern about the agencies' efforts to expand the regulatory scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA) term "waters of the United States."

Lawmakers said the agencies are using a guidance document, rather than a legislative change or regulatory rulemaking process, to expand the scope of the law.  The term, "waters of the United States," includes federal jurisdiction over wetlands, as well as navigable waterways.

Representatives told agency leaders that if the administration wants to change the CWA, it must propose legislative changes to Congress or notify the public about rule changes and seek comment, however they "cannot, through guidance, change the scope and meaning of the Clean Water Act or the statute's implementing regulations."

Lawmakers are concerned that the guidance document would "undermine the regulated community's rights...and erode the federal-state partnership" that implements the CWA by substantively changing the agencies' policy on waters subject to the statute's jurisdiction.

The rice-district lawmakers who signed the letter are: Reps. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), Mike Ross (D-Ark.), Rodney Alexander (R-La.), Wally Herger (R-Calif.), Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.), Pete Olson (R-Texas), Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Charles Boustany (R-La.), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), Ralph Hall (R-Texas), Jeff Landry (R-La.), Steve Fincher (R-Tenn.), Tom Womack (R-Ark.), and Jeff Denham (R-Calif.).