Senate Western Caucus Applauds Trump Administration Rewrite of EPA WOTUS rule

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines, chair of the Senate Western Caucus, and Caucus Members Senator Jim Inhofe, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Joni Ernst, Senator John Barrasso Senator Pat Roberts, Senator Jeff Flake and Senator Jon Kyl, today applauded the Trump administration’s rewrite of the Obama era “Waters of the US” (WOTUS) rule. The new EPA rule more narrowly defines “waters of the US” to focus on truly public waterways.

“The Obama WOTUS rule took federal government overreach in rural America to absurd new levels,” Daines said. “Maybe the Obama administration should have spent more time focusing on economic growth and protecting the homeland rather than trying to regulate farm puddles. As chair of the Senate Western Caucus, I applaud the Trump administration for rewriting this rule so that it applies to actual public waterways and no longer does harm to farmers and ranchers.”

“Americans deserve clean water and clear rules,” Barrasso, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), said. “The Trump administration’s new proposal respects the authority Congress gave EPA and the Army Corps under the Clean Water Act. Regulations must follow the law and be easy for Americans to understand. This new proposal does that. The old WOTUS rule put Washington in control of ponds, puddles, and prairie potholes. The regulation was so confusing that property owners and businesses could not determine when permits were needed. Even worse, it inserted Washington into local decision making. This overreach put unfair restrictions on how farmers, ranchers, and landowners could use their property. I am glad the new proposal addresses these issues.”

“This is a big deal for Alaska that should help end years of concern, frustration, and uncertainty over a costly regulation that would have halted construction projects and other economic opportunities,” Murkowski, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said. “This new proposal will protect water quality while providing clarity on the scope of regulation and restoring balance to the state and federal relationship. I look forward to working with EPA and the Army Corps to make sure it is effective and workable for Alaskans.”

“We needed a right-sized WOTUS rule, and that is exactly what President Trump and Acting Administrator Wheeler delivered,” Inhofe, senior member of EPW, said. “The new rule will clearly define the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act in a straightforward manner, alleviating the burden farmers and landowners face under the Obama-era rule requiring them to spend tens of thousands of unnecessary dollars to determine if they need to obtain a federal permit to make improvements to their land. Thirty-two states, two courts and even members of Obama’s own administration all agreed that the Obama-era WOTUS rule was deeply flawed and an illegal land-grab by unelected federal bureaucrats. The new WOTUS rule changes all of that by helping farmers, ranchers, homebuilders and energy producers across Oklahoma focus on their business—not red tape—and I am glad we are moving in the right direction.”

“I thank President Trump and the EPA for putting a priority on revising the WOTUS rule to be workable for farmers, ranchers, and landowners,” Roberts, chair of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee said. “This revised rule scales back the previously affected areas, which represented a huge regulatory overstep by the Obama administration. Farmers and ranchers can spend more time growing and raising food – instead of sifting through mounds of regulatory red tape.”

“For years, people impacted by Obama’s WOTUS rule have been in a state of regulatory limbo. The proposed WOTUS rule, released by the Trump EPA, provides much needed predictability and certainty by establishing clear and reasonable definitions of what qualifies as a ‘WOTUS.’  Iowa’s farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and small businesses can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that, going forward, a tire track that collects rain water won’t be regulated by the federal government.  I want to thank the EPA, under Acting Administrator Wheeler’s leadership, for ensuring this WOTUS replacement rule was released quickly, and properly, to provide much-needed regulatory certainty to the people of Iowa,” Ernst said. 

“I applaud the administration’s efforts to clarify and narrow the scope of the misguided Waters of the United States rule. The rewritten rule provides the consistency and predictability that landowners need, and stops the flow of the federal government into every dry ditch in Arizona,” Flake said. 

“I am pleased the EPA announced it will propose a change to the Clean Water Act’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule, which has continuously subjected Arizona farmers and ranchers, as well as Arizona’s homebuilding industry, to federal overreach. A rule change would allow these industries continue to operate without unnecessary restrictions,” Kyl said.

The WOTUS rule defines which bodies of water are subject to federal jurisdiction under the 1970 Clean Water Act. The Obama Administration rule was announced in 2015 and was written so broadly that to everything from puddles to irrigation ditches on private land could be considered “Waters of the US,” and be subject to federal regulations. In today’s announcement, the EPA stated that bodies of water on private property that are not connected to larger waterways, as well as temporary streams that run only from rainfall will not be subject to regulation.