Letters

Ranking Members Remind the Administration that Congress Writes the Laws When it Comes to WOTUS

Washington, D.C., September 20, 2022 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Republican leader Sam Graves (R-MO) and several of his colleagues today raised concerns about regulatory actions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) which would expand the breadth of their regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate “waters of the United States”, or “WOTUS”. The Committee leaders warned these agencies to stay within the bounds of authority granted to them by Congress.

In a letter to the Administrator of the EPA, Michael S. Regan, and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Michael L. Connor, Graves and his colleagues noted the recent Supreme Court decision, West Virginia v. EPA, in which the majority opinion noted that there are extraordinary cases in which an agency must point to “clear congressional authorization for the authority it claims.”

In particular, the letter highlighted attempts to expand the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under both the Obama and Biden Administrations. The letter explained, “the fight over the definition of WOTUS is characterized by opportunistic attempts by both the Obama and Biden Administrations to administratively expand the authority of both the EPA and the Corps.” [Graves and colleagues] argued that the West Virginia v. EPA opinion gives “reason to hesitate” that Congress meant to confer to the EPA and the Corps the authority they claim.

Graves and colleagues also highlighted a prior Congressional letter signed by over 200 Members requesting the Corps to halt all current rulemaking actions until the Supreme Court rules on the pending Sackett v. EPA case, which deals precisely with the definition of WOTUS.  They stated, “We reiterate that request, and now further stress that the Agencies must consider the decision of West Virginia vs. EPA prior to issuing a rulemaking that would clearly surpass the Agencies’ congressional authority to define WOTUS.”

Members asked for the EPA and the Corps to provide lists of all pending and expected rulemakings related to WOTUS and to provide the specific Congressional authority for each.

Read the full letter here.
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