House Republicans Sound Alarm on Biden Administration’s Plan to Undo Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule
Caution Against Return to Obama-era Overregulation and Confusion
Top Republican leaders in the House of Representatives today joined Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member David Rouzer (R-NC) in outlining their concerns regarding the Biden administration’s intention to undo the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The Biden administration’s recent announcement signaled its intent to revise the definition of the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act and potentially return to Obama-era regulations that harmed farmers, businesses, states, local governments, and families throughout the country.
The Members of Congress sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jaime Pinkham. Joining Rep. Rouzer on the letter were House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO), Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-AR), and Small Business Committee Ranking Member Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), in addition to a number of other Republican Members. In total, 126 Members of Congress signed the letter.
The Members wrote, “With all the other crises confronting our nation it makes little sense to unravel a final rule that has taken decades of Agency action, litigation, and legislation to settle. Instead, we encourage the Administration to focus its attention and resources on the more pressing economic and international issues confronting our nation such as inflation, the border crisis, the safety of our communities, reopening schools, and protecting America from our adversaries who seek to do us harm.”
However, if the Biden administration chooses to continue with its plans to redefine WOTUS, the Members cautioned: “We are concerned that the approach the Agencies intend to take in revising this important regulation will regress from the clarity provided by the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, and will reimpose a vastly overbroad interpretation of Federal jurisdiction over waters around the Nation.”
They urged the Agencies not to ignore the input of the general public, small businesses, Federal and state agencies, and the rest of the regulated community to create another rule that provides less regulatory certainty, as occurred under the Obama administration.
The Members wrote, “The Obama Administration’s overreaching WOTUS rule had a disastrous effect on farmers, businesses, and families. That rule drew substantial opposition from states, local governments, and citizens across the Nation challenging the overbreadth of the definitions included. The regulatory burden placed on average Americans and the effect on the economy would be detrimental if the Agencies were to remove the definitions included in the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, especially as we look to restart the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic. If we want to help get Americans back to work, the Administration cannot continue to propose partisan executive and legislative actions which will only slow down or reverse the economic recovery. Instead, we must have reasonable regulation to enable Americans to thrive and to grow our Nation’s economy, including in rural and other underserved parts of the country. To do this, the Agencies must keep in mind the multitude of concerns and issues previously raised about the Obama Administration’s WOTUS rule and maintain the updated definitions of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.”