A variety of Missouri business groups are asking lawmakers to force them to start paying fees again for water pollution permits.
Missouri's fees expired at the end of 2010 for state permits to discharge wastewater or divert storm water into streams or lakes. The permits are needed by the likes of commercial developers, home builders, utilities, manufacturers and livestock producers.
During a Senate committee hearing Tuesday, numerous lobbyists representing business, agriculture and utility interests urged lawmakers to reinstate the fee.
They expressed fears that Missouri's water regulations could be taken over by the federal Environmental Protection Agency if the state lacks sufficient funding for its own enforcement efforts.
The water regulatory duties currently are handled by the state Department of Natural Resources.