Romney Joins Entire Senate Republican Conference in Fight to Stop Biden-Obama’s Resurrection WOTUS Overreach
WASHINGTON-US Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) joined fellow Senate Republicans, led by Sen. John Thune (R-SD), in urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to suspend pending rulemaking. to redefine the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA), particularly “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), until the United States Supreme Court completes its review of the case Sackett v. EPA, a case that should have important consequences. implications on the scope and application of the CWA.
The senators argue that it would be irresponsible for the EPA and USACE to proceed with regulations that could be invalidated or significantly changed as early as this summer. The letter also criticizes how the rule’s proposed regulatory override would “entangle U.S. economic sectors in bureaucracy” and impose significant uncertainty on a range of stakeholders, particularly farmers and ranchers.
“The federal government should not promulgate rules for reasons of political expediency, but rather provide regulatory certainty to stakeholders within the limits of an agency’s respective statutory authority,” the senators wrote. “Continuing with rulemaking at this time, despite ongoing litigation and the potentially influential decision, will only add to the uncertainty within the regulated community.”
“We are especially troubled that the proposed rule exceeds the regulatory authority granted to the EPA and USACE by the Clean Water Act,” senators continued. “The proposed rule seeks to federalize waters in a land grab that arguably outstrips its 2015 predecessor, erroneously encompassing water features traditionally the sole purview of states, while returning to the simple, comparative application of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule of 2020…and injecting new uncertainty for almost all private sector stakeholders.
“Farmers are frustrated with back and forth over water regulations,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We finally got some clarity with the navigable waters protection rule, but the definition of ‘waters of the United States’ now faces more uncertainty. Farmers are deliberate in how they use resources, and continued indecision makes it difficult to plan and grow the food that American families depend on. We urge the Biden administration to pause its plan to write a new WOTUS rule until the Supreme Court provides more guidance on which waters fall under federal jurisdiction.
“For years, cattle ranchers have been faced with ever-changing WOTUS definitions, leaving farmers and ranchers wondering if a body of water on their property could suddenly fall under federal jurisdiction,” said Scott Yager, chief environmental adviser at the National Cattleman’s Beef Association. “As the Supreme Court is set to hear a case on WOTUS, cattle ranchers are united in urging the Biden administration to put a hold on the development of new WOTUS rules until the outcome of the case be clear. The NCBA thanks Senator Thune for encouraging the EPA to suspend their regulations and avoid even more confusing regulations for producers.
“The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association congratulates Senator Thune and all senators for their leadership in ensuring that our industry faces viable and reliable water regulation,” said Austin Bone, director of government affairs at the National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association. “We support their call on the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers to delay the development of the current Clean Water Act rules until the Supreme Court has an opportunity to complete its deliberations on a case that will impact the actions of agencies and likely force them to write another rule. Aggregates producers, facing their fourth change to these critical regulations in the past decade, are hungry for certainty as we strive to supply the country with building materials to improve our infrastructure. We call on the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to respond to calls from Senator Thune and all senators who signed today’s letter to ensure our companies can continue to work to help build America .
The full text of the letter is available below and here.
Dear Administrator Regan and Assistant Secretary Connor:
We are writing to request that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) suspend pending rulemaking to redefine the scope of protected waters under the Clean Water Act, specifically the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS), until the United States Supreme Court completed its review of Sackett v. EPA, Case No. 21-454. As you know, this case may have major implications for the scope and application of the Clean Water Act. It would be irresponsible for the EPA and USACE to follow a regulatory path that could be invalidated or significantly changed as early as this summer.
More importantly, the suspension of rulemaking will allow stakeholders across the country to assess how a potential decision will affect their standing in this regulatory space. The federal government should not promulgate rules for reasons of political expediency, but rather provide regulatory certainty to stakeholders within the limits of an agency’s respective statutory authority. Continuing to develop the rules at this time, despite ongoing litigation and the potentially influential decision, will only add further uncertainty to the regulated community. We therefore urge the EPA and USACE to suspend WOTUS rulemaking, or at least extend the comment period for the proposed rule published at 86 Fed. Reg. 69372 (December 1, 2021), until at least 60 days after the Supreme Court’s decision on Sackett.
In addition to submitting this request, we are also writing to comment on the WOTUS Rule as currently proposed. Above all, we are troubled that the proposed rule exceeds the regulatory authority granted to the EPA and USACE by the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule aims to federalize waters in a land grab that arguably outshines its 2015 predecessor, erroneously encompassing water features traditionally the sole purview of states, while returning to the simple, comparative application of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule of 2020, 85 Fed. Reg. 22250 (April 21, 2020), and introducing new uncertainties for almost all private sector stakeholders.
Relying on the ambiguous “significant connection” standard, the proposed WOTUS rule will subject water features not covered by the only two categorical exclusions of waste treatment systems and previously converted cropland (a term that is problematically left undefined in the rule) to cost and time-consuming processes to determine whether such features, such as ditches or other ephemeral waters, cause more than speculative or insignificant effects on the chemical, physical, or biological integrity of country waters. Limited exclusions and lack of clarity, such as for ditches, grassland potholes and storage ponds, as well as the inability to define previously converted cropland, are major concerns for our stakeholders.
Given the severe financial penalties that stakeholders could face for conducting standard agricultural practices or other land management practices under the proposed rule, family farmers and pastoralists are understandably alarmed at the attempt to land grabbing by the administration. These producers have a vested interest in responsible stewardship of their water and land, and they depend on clear, consistent, and sustainable regulations that can guide such activity. Unfortunately, the proposed WOTUS rule fails on every measurement.
As you consider our request to suspend the WOTUS rulemaking process, we urge you to listen to these stakeholders and hear firsthand how the proposed WOTUS definition revision will cast a cloud of uncertainty over landowners. across the country and will send US economic sectors into the red. ribbon.
Thank you for the prompt consideration of our request.