House votes to take EPA off clean water beat

By DINA CAPPIELLO | July 13, 2011 | 7:14 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has passed a bill limiting the federal government's role in protecting waters from pollution.

The bill bars the Environmental Protection Agency from overruling states on water quality decisions. It passed 239-184 on Wednesday.

States have primary responsibility for protecting waterways under federal law. But the EPA can step in when it thinks water resources aren't being adequately protected.

The House measure strips the agency of that oversight authority, which supporters say has been used to set a political agenda.

Under the Obama administration, the EPA has used its authority to set the limits on nutrient-rich runoff in Florida and to revoke a crucial water permit for West Virginia's largest mountaintop removal mine.

Critics say the bill would have much broader implications. The White House has threatened a veto.